B.A. with Honors, 1971
I grew up in Levittown, PA. My parents had graduated from what was then Women’s College and NC State College; they thought Chapel Hill would be perfect for me. I enrolled in the Fall of 1967 thinking I would be an English major like my mother, but would maybe like to “teach college” instead of high school. During the Spring of 1968 I decided that a life of analyzing English literature was not for me. Fortunately, at the same time I took a very inspiring introductory sociology class, and was hooked. I found I had an interest in the social world, could analyze cause and effect, and could also integrate this with my love of writing.
This was a time of great social activism at Chapel Hill and in the nation generally. I became engaged with both the civil rights movement and the women’s movement at Chapel Hill, and through this found my voice. Faculty in the department apparently saw something in me. I particularly remember support from Jim Wiggins, Glen Elder, Cora Marrett, Dick Simpson and Dick Cramer. I was invited to join the Honors Program beginning in my sophomore year and completed a thesis on small group work by December of 1970. I grew to appreciate the importance of research.
I had learned I would need a PhD to pursue university research and teaching. Jim Wiggins encouraged me to study small group work at the University of Washington. Eager to see the West Coast, I enrolled there at the same time Tad Blalock joined the faculty. Everyone thought he had “brought me” to UW, but, of course, these were separate decisions. There I benefited immensely from Tad’s classes, as well as those of Herb Costner, Lowell Hargens, Sam Preston, and Karen Cook. Although I took one exam in social psychology, the conventional wisdom was you also needed a more macro area. I chose stratification, partly because I had enjoyed Cora’s class at Chapel Hill so much.
I also made the decision to minor in labor economics and get into the analysis of secondary data sets when that work was in its infancy. That was critical to my subsequent career studying labor markets, work, and child well-being; I continue to pursue some of these interests today. I was very fortunate to hold appointments at the University of Iowa, where I met my husband, John, and at Ohio State, where I grew both professionally and was able to enter administration. Administrative work took me to Purdue as Dean of Liberal Arts, and then back to North Carolina as Dean of CHASS at NCSU. I am now back on the faculty and continue to pursue research on child well-being and the intersection of families and schools, with particular reference to the role of social capital. Anyone interested in seeing more of my career including publications and service can just go to my website.
John and I have two children and two grandchildren (so far!). We enjoy traveling and particularly appreciate all of the recreational options we have here in North Carolina.
submitted March 2016