The past calendar year has been a busy one for the Department, filled with some activities that represent annual highlights, and others that are going to be truly transformative. This year we conducted a nationwide search for a senior colleague to join SCU and serve as department chair. As the position description declared, we sought a distinguished teaching-scholar who is committed to superior undergraduate teaching, mentoring of student research, working with a diverse student body, and working collaboratively with other faculty. Everyone agreed appreciation of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, as well as a track record of successful leadership was a must. Numerous qualified candidates applied for this coveted position, and through the hard work of the search committee and department as a whole I am pleased to say the finalist delivers on all accounts.
This fall we welcome Dr. Enrique S. Pumar, Fay Boyle Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology. Professor Pumar’s scholarly focus is in the area of Cuba and Latin American studies. He is frequently asked to give interviews with popular press outlets, thus sharing his research and findings with broader public audiences. as a teacher, Dr. Pumar offers students a wide range of ways to learn about sociology and learn by doing. He has considerable experience mentoring undergraduate students and co-authoring scholarly papers with former students. Dr. Pumar has served as department chair and has participated in key curricular and university committees at his current institution, the Catholic University of America. He serves on the editorial boards of Sociological Forum and the Journal of Sociology and Theory of Religion, and is the consulting editor for sociology to the Library of Congress Handbook of Latin American Studies. In 2013, Dr. Pumar received the Outstanding Author Contribution Award by the Emerald Literati Network. Dr. Pumar is an affiliated scholar in the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. This spring, Dr. Pumar is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Valladolid in Spain. Dr. Pumar will be assuming the role of department chair on September 1, 2017.
In other faculty news, please join me in congratulating Dr. Laura Robinson who received tenure and was promoted to associate professor in the fall. Not only did Dr. Robinson achieve this noteworthy professional milestone, she was also the recipient of the first annual Witold Krassowski Student Research Assistant Endowed Award. Dr. Robinson received funding that allowed her to mentor three of our sociology majors on projects addressing the sociology of Latin America. Dr. Alma Garcia has authored a third edition of her book North From Mexico: The Spanish-Speaking People of the United States (3e., 2016) with collaborators Carey McWilliams and Matt S. Meier. I wish to acknowledge Professor Marilyn Fernandez’s magnificent service once again this year on the Silicon Valley Notebook (Vol. 15). The theme this year was “Organizational Effectiveness and Youth Success.” Dr. Fernandez expertly mentored six talented students in the construction of significant and timely empirical papers. The depth and rigor of these investigations and thoughtfulness of the manuscripts is remarkable.
Rounding out faculty news is the fact that Dr. Laura Nichols is completing her term as Core Curriculum director and heading into much deserved sabbatical year.
The department recently hosted the 44th annual combined Anthropology/Sociology Undergraduate Research Conference in the spring. Thirty-eight students prepared posters or oral presentations of their research accomplishments. Student presenters represented not only SCU, but also UC Santa Cruz, Vanguard University, Stanford University, Gettysburg College, University of San Francisco, University of La Verne, UC Berkeley, and CSU Fresno. The plenary speaker was Dr. Gabe Ignatow (University of North Texas), who also was a Visiting Scholar as part of our program of having eminent sociologists present on campus to meet with our faculty and students. This year, Dr. Ignatow delivered a keynote address at the Undergraduate Research Conference based on his work in sociology of digital media. He introduced conference attendees to the emerging field of “digital sociology” which includes major societal and technical trends such as cloud computing, social media, text-mining, and the ethical challenges unique to the digital age and of social problems being created by new technologies.
This year the department implemented significant curriculum changes including SOCI 35, a new lower-division course designed to provide our majors (and minors) with an understanding of the linkage between qualitative and quantitative methods that will prepare them for upper-division theory and methods courses. Sociology majors will also be expected to complete an Internship course in their junior or senior year to prepare for graduate programs and/or professional careers that they are likely to pursue. Interest in Sociology is on the rise with 88 declared majors and 43 declared minors, and many more students across from exceptional teaching in our lower division courses that serve the Core Curriculum. I have every reason to believe that this interest is a sign of our time and the critical importance of sociology to better understand issues of race, poverty, urbanization, inequalities, globalization, immigration, environmental change, gender, power, and class. As citizens we all need this understanding if we are going to shape policies and practices that address social needs among the Earth’s people.
The faculty and students of the department continue to benefit from the gifts made it by its loyal alumni. The monies are used for a broad range of activities, including the Visiting Scholar program, the Student Research Award, and various awards to our majors in recognition of their academic excellence. We would not be able to support many of the activities that are critical for moving our efforts forward were it not for these donations. So our deepest thanks for making us part of your charitable contributions!
As I bring to a close my one-year assignment as interim chair of the department, let me say that it has been a pleasure and honor to serve as interim chair for the Department of Sociology this year. The previous (interim) chair, Dr. Jack Gilbert played a big part of setting the stage for the successes to come and I confidently pass the baton to Dr. Enrique Pumar in September when he arrives to campus.
Dr. Carol Ann Gittens
Interim Chair, Department of Sociology