History of the Sociology Department


Sociology was one of the earliest and most popular social science majors at CSULB. Six courses were offered under the title sociology in 1950 but there was not yet a formal major nor was there a professional sociologist among the 19 CSULB charter faculty members. In 1951-52, a major in sociology was formally established and an additional nine courses, some of them in social work, were introduced. The first trained sociologist, William Hartman (1951-1979) was hired this year and seven more tenure-track faculty members were added during the decade: George Korber (1952-1978), David Dressler (1953-1970), Nick Massarro (1954-1979), Paul Ullman (1958-1997), John Dackawich (1959-1970), Barbara Day Lorch (1959-1969), and Al Sheets (1959-1975). George Korber and Nick Massarro were movers and shakers on the CSULB campus as well as in the Department throughout the 1905s and 1960s. Alumni from these years fondly recall George’s stories of his former life as a hobo and Nick Massarro’s advice about life, including the saying ” A dreamer lives forever but a toiler lives a day.”


During the 1960’s, the number of faculty and students in the Department of Sociology and Social Welfare, as it was officially known, expanded rapidly in response to student interest in understanding social processes, social problems, and social change. Twenty-six professors joined the faculty as tenure-track faculty members during this period. Those who eventually received tenure include Hal Hubbard (1962-1968), Martin Haskell (1963-78), Glenn Walker (1964-1989), Herb Aarons (1965-1991), Gordon Leis (1966-1986), Audrey Fuss (1966-1977), Marsha Harman (1966-2005), Peggy Anderson Smith (1968-1992), Barry Dank (1968-2004), Michael Halliwell (1968-2004), Doug Parker (1968-present), Howard Fradkin (1969-1991) and Pat Richmond (1969-1984). Millie Enterline and Karen Fawson served as department secretaries among others. By the end of the period, the department offered a total of 50 courses (including 12 graduate seminars) and had a full-time faculty of 30. The number of undergraduate majors peaked at 1300 in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Social Science Master’s Degree students could choose sociology as their concentration in the early 1960s and a formal Master’s Degree in sociology was begun in 1966. Many sociology students and some faculty members were active in campus protests of the 1960s and early 1970s, including opposition to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the struggle to establish Black and Chicano Studies programs. Prof. William Hartman and Marilyn Fithian, a sociology Master’s program graduate, became well known for their research on sexuality during this period.


During the academic year 1971-1972, sociology agreed to allow social welfare to separate and form an autonomous department, later known as the Department of Social Work. The number of full-time faculty (including Social Welfare) peaked at 30 during this year; the number of undergraduate majors was still high at 877 in Fall 1973, after the departure of Social Welfare. After the hiring of six full-time faculty in 1970 (John Freeman [1970-71], Hal Hubbard [1970-2004]), Farouk Mourad (1970-1971), Fernando Penalosa (1970-1990), Carl Slawski (1970-2003), Theresa Turk (1970-2000), a steady stream of retirements and separations due to other factors as well as reductions in university and state budgets, resulted in significant reductions in faculty positions. For 12 years no new full-time faculty members were hired in the department.


Following national trends, the number of sociology majors declined precipitously during the 1980’s (bottoming out at 128 in Spring 1985), as students seemed to prefer more technical majors (such as Engineering) or those they thought would bring them more financially lucrative careers (such as Business and Psychology). Even as the number of majors declined during the 1980s, however, sociology remained a popular choice for general education courses taken by students of other majors. Budgetary constraints, declining, enrollments and internal department dynamics resulted in a phase-out of the department’s master’s program in the early 1980s, with the last class having been admitted to the program in 1979. Mary Eldridge became the Department Secretary in 1982 and served until May 1990.

In 1983, the department received its first joint appointed faculty member, Norma Chinchilla, shared with the Program in Women’s Studies, and in 1985 its second joint appointment, Gail Farmer, shared with the Department of Health Sciences. In 1986, Charles Gallmeier and Carole Campbell were hired as Assistant Professors; Juniper Wiley and William Gibson joined the faculty as Assistant Professors in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Our newest additions to the faculty, Jeff Davis and Kristine Zentgraf–joined in 1997 and 1998. Lilly Monji has been the Department Secretary since April 1991. The number of sociology majors has increased significantly over the last five years (to over 300) and many sociology General Education courses have been unable to keep up with student demand. The sociology major at CSULB has traditionally had strong core requirements in theory, methodology, social psychology, social stratification, and social change and currently has a choiceof concentrations in “Deviance and Social Control,” “Interaction and Group Relations,” “Medical Sociology,” and “Social Change and Global Issues.” Faculty research interests include: alcoholism, sexual behavior, mental health and illness, breast cancer, AIDS, sibling relationships, the social psychology of ethnic conflict, the social psychology of love and emotions, stratification, families, immigration, women and violence, global women’s movements, environmental movements, international social conflict, popular culture, and program evaluation. Under the current sociology internship program, introduced in 1992, some 300 sociology students have completed internships at 125 agencies and an estimated 40 students have accepted job offers as a result of their internships. Over the last three years, eleven sociology students have been selected to be McNair Scholars, a program that prepares low income and first generation college students for graduate and professional school.