Warm greetings from Bloomington!
On behalf of all of our colleagues in the Department of Sociology, we are delighted to present a special Summer 2021 edition of our department newsletter. This special edition captures the events of this past year. It features stories about our new faculty, updates on faculty activities, faculty and student awards, and department transitions. Whether you have been away for a long time or just a few years, we hope that these stories connect you back to your Bloomington friends.
This has been a time of challenges and transitions. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd in 2020 brought issues of racial injustice back into the national and local spotlight even as we were deeply engaged in a review of department climate and representativeness. A planned spring symposium on inequality and social justice activism (co-sponsored with the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society) was forced to cancel in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. We finished the spring 2020 semester online and held all our spring festivities in honor of sociology undergraduates and graduate students on Zoom. We then set about preparing for the unexpected — another full year of severe restrictions on in-person gatherings. We used all the tools at hand to navigate the pandemic while remaining true to our research, teaching and service mission and preparing for a more inclusive future.
Last summer Jane McLeod transitioned out of the chair position and into the College, where she currently serves as Executive Associate Dean. During her three years of dedicated and inspiring leadership, the department added four terrific new faculty members, inaugurated our "4+1" BA to MA program, and developed new initiatives aimed at increasing equity and inclusiveness in the department. Patricia McManus moved into the chair position last July as we welcomed a talented new cohort of graduate students, some of whom have yet to meet in person. Patricia looks forward to August, when we can once again invite all of our faculty to meet the newest cohorts of graduate students at our annual in-person welcome party.
We are so very proud of our students, faculty and staff for their courage, creativity and perseverance as they found new ways to keep the department humming in this challenging year. More than ever, we cherish the importance of community. The strength of our department derives from our deep and abiding connections to each other: those in Bloomington, those still trying to get to Bloomington and those who have carried the spirit of Indiana University Sociology to new locales. We hope that you enjoy the newsletter, and we look forward to staying in touch.