Welcome to this special edition of our newsletter, which covers two years of events in the Department of Sociology at Ball State. Much has transpired since summer of 2021.
Our students continue to achieve remarkable success. For example, in Spring 2022, Payton Drefcinski and Julia Tharp were recognized as the department’s Outstanding Seniors. University recognitions that year included Payton Drefcinski, who won the coveted Provost’s Prize. Payton, along with Ellie Haynes and Julia Tharp, also were awarded Academic Honors in Writing—a notoriously difficult achievement. This year, Ozzie Kazarian was awarded an Undergraduate Honors Fellowship; both Ozzie and Lauren Latham completed Honors Theses. Ozzie was also officially recognized as one of the Top 100 Students at Ball State University. Myah Boyes and Miriam Barrera were the department’s Outstanding Seniors, and Whitney Ragon was a Ball State Honors in Writing Finalist. We are also pleased to announce that the inaugural recipient of the renamed Dr. Stephen D. Johnson and Dr. Joseph B. Tamney Scholarship is Giovanni Guia, and that Erick Sherman won this year’s Dr. Whitney Gordon Scholarship. All of this is in addition to the multiple internships, independent studies, presentations (individual and collaborative), papers, capstone projects with community partners such as Second Harvest and the Hancock County Drug Court, master’s theses, and other work that students undertake. These activities are crucial to ensure that our students become career-ready and, more broadly, to prepare them to embark upon the next steps of their lives as educated citizens, with purpose, direction, and civility in a polarized and contentious time.
It is, of course, the persistent dedication and excellence of our faculty that fosters the development of these students. In addition to continuing our tradition of offering top-tier instruction (and, in fact, serving as a national model for developing sociology curricula), our faculty have continued to be very active scholars. In fact, over the past two years, faculty have published more than two dozen articles, two books, an edited volume, and a variety of other publications on topics covering family, health, religion, policy, ethnicity, gender, methods, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and others. Grants written by Dr. Mellisa Holtzman, Dr. Melinda Messineo, Dr. Richard Petts, and Dr. Ellen Whitehead collectively brought over $900,000 to Ball State from entities such as the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Our faculty continue to serve on countless committees at every level, including internationally. The quality and quantity of Dr. Melinda Messineo’s contributions to inclusive excellence at Ball State was recognized in 2021 when she received the Outstanding Diversity Advocate Award. Then, in 2022, she was awarded the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award at the American Sociological Association annual meeting. Dr. Mellisa Holtzman’s level and quality of service to the North Central Sociological Association over time is such that she was awarded the Aida Tomeh Distinguished Service Award for 2021. We are especially pleased that Mr. Greg Fehribach, who was recently named Chair of the United States Access Board by President Biden, teaches a special topics course for us in the Sociology of Disability.
I appreciate the time that our alumni and friends take to let us know about milestones in their lives, as well. For example, Dr. John Anderson took a position as Director of the Ryan Family Navigator’s Program at Ball State (while still finding time to teach an occasional high-impact course on race and ethnicity for our department). Ms. Cheri Madewell was selected by the U.S. Department of State for a 1-month English Language Specialist project focusing on Pride Month Conversations with Educators in Brazil. This is one of about 240 projects that the English Language Specialist Program supports each year.
Unfortunately, our newsletter also sometimes bears news of loss. We were deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. David Maines, an alumnus and long-time friend of our department, in spring 2022. We also lost Professor Emeritus Dr. Stephen D. Johnson this past August. Their contributions and continued influence on our department’s legacy cannot be overstated, and they will be sorely missed.
This is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg; I am continually astounded at the excellence and productivity of our faculty, students, alumni, and friends. We may not be the largest department on campus, but we are without question one of the finest, and I am humbled by the honor of serving as its Chair. I could not ask for finer colleagues. You can expect us to continue to move knowledge forward and to share it, to innovate, and to continue to adapt in a rapidly changing landscape.
I hope that you will enjoy reading more about these and other developments herein. As always, should you have news to share with us, please drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (765-285-5977). You are always welcome to stop by NQ 222 for coffee or tea. Thank you so much for your time, attention, and support.
Chadwick L. Menning, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Sociology
Ball State University