I had a wonderful career teaching sociology, at Ithaca College since 1983. My dissertation is the same age as my son, born in 1971, and my daughter was born the day before the last class of my first year of teaching, in 1973. I'm proud that my career was awarded the status of Professor Emerita in 2012.
My work life became dramatically more exciting in 2014, when I accepted the commission to write the next installment of the institutional history of Ithaca College! John Harcourt's book ended with the arrival of James J. Whalen, and our current president Tom Rochon asked me to tell the story of the college between 1975 and 2008, the presidencies of Whalen and Peggy Ryan Williams.
What a terrific project for a sociologist whose career spans that period and who learned a lot about higher education in my faculty development role! I see Ithaca College as a case study in the important story of higher education in the last quarter of last century and the first decade of this one. Our identity as a comprehensive college provides a unique perspective, and our story is both familiar nationally and particular to us. Interviewing people with experiences and analysis to share has been great fun for all of us!
As an independent faculty development professional, I also advise individuals about their teaching and their tenure processes, support faculty writing, and consult and write about organizational development. I am an Associate Coach and manager of the online Academic Writing Club, where I facilitate conference calls and write materials, and I'm also a speaker and workshop leader for Academic Ladder,
Late in my career, I reclaimed my voice as a scholar, and an essay was circulated in a variety of networks including Tomorrow's Professor. My current research project deals with chronic illness and the faculty career, and I co-authored an article in Academe in May-June 1012. You can download it here.
In my position in faculty development, I designed our virtual Center for Faculty Excellence and worked with faculty from across campus. I led a process that designed and is implementing the Ithaca Faculty Commons, a face-to-face and online resource for our faculty. I designed and implemented our group-based mentoring program, which has been recognized nationally.
I have worked institutionally in many ways, including service as department chair, chair of the all-college tenure and promotion committee, and coordinator of the first year seminar program. Between 2001 and 2010 I was assigned half time to the Provost to provide faculty development services. I worked to mentor faculty, support departments, demystify the tenure process, and enhance diversity. My understanding of the intersections between institutional structures, cultural changes, and faculty experience enriches every conversation I have.
My teaching areas were research methods, the Sociology of Health and Medicine, and aging studies. I remain convinced of the critical value of the sociological imagination, committed to empowering people to enjoy data, fascinated by the effect of social factors on the body, and passionate about health care systems.
Many years ago I was an activist in women's health issues; probably what we now call a public sociologist. I wrote the first book on a women's health concern, "Coping with a Hysterectomy," in 1982, and I did a lot of work with the Boston Women's Health Book Collective who write "Our Bodies, Ourselves." It was a book for the general public but it was very sociological and very well-researched. I'm still proud of the impact I made with that work.
I love being my age! I first taught during a time when student views were not taken seriously, when scholars were not supposed to be engaged in the community, and when anything other than lecture was frowned upon. My colleagues and I struggled but I believe we have transformed undergraduate education. Now we hire new faculty members who have never known college other than what we created, and who want to put teaching undergraduates as their first priority. An essay reflecting on our legacy, and a speech about reclaiming my voice as a scholar, are attached.
My age also involves grown children, a daughter who is a skillful and dedicated physics professor and a son who works in the financial sector in Russia. My four grandchildren from Moscow spend several weeks each summer with me, my partner, and our dog in the Fall Creek neighborhood of downtown Ithaca.