Associate Provost & Associate Professor

About

Biography

Born and raised in Flint, Michigan, I first studied economics (mainstream, institutionalist, structuralist, and Marxian, including separately at the University of London and at Cambridge University), and spent a year in the graduate program in sociology, both at Michigan State University, before then moving on to earn a doctorate in sociology from Brandeis University. I have written about how life led me to sociology (see Taking It Big [2001]), but I don't recall if I emphasized that an aversion to quantitative methods was among those reasons. I saw myself as a Frankfurt School/Chicago School type--think Mills' "classic tradition"; in fact, think Mills--which is what was on offer at Brandeis. Lots of course work in feminist theory (Barrie Thorne), social-psychology (Morrie Schwartz), qualitative methods (Shula Reinharz), urban sociology (Richard Child Hill), complex organizations (Bo Anderson), political economy (George Ross), work and occupations (Carmen Sirrani), etc., along the way, but mainly theory. At Brandeis particularly, with Kurt Wolff, Kathy Barry, Jacqui Alexander, Charlie Fischer, Gordie Fellman, and Michael Macy roaming the halls, everything was theory: existential sociology (Gila Hayim), classical theory (Egon Bittner), the sociology of birth & death (Maurice R. Stein), etc. I also undertook graduate and advanced course work in economics (Solo), philosophy (Peterson, Bok), and politics (Martin), and, with some help from Irv Zola, ended up writing a 600+-page fieldwork-based dissertation on my hometown, but which is really a study in "lifeworld-grounded" ideology-critique, what the New School's Arthur Vidich (a friend) called "the first study that applies empirically the critical theories of Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno, Habermas, and Marcuse and relates their work to a concrete situation of a conflict between 'capitalism' and human need." Revised, the dissertation was published as A Town Abandoned: Flint, Michigan, Confronts Deindustrailization, but only because Art liked it. My next book, which was co-authored and which doubled-down on "lifeworld-grounded critical theory," was published because the late Ben Agger liked it (in fact, I think Ben suggested writing it in the first place). My third book, Taking It Big, an homage to Mills, was written on post-tenure sabbatical at the University of Dayton, a Catholic comprehensive university sans graduate program in sociology. At that point, I began a 20-year career in higher ed administration, mostly as an honors program director (U.D., Tennessee, Kansas State), and via the provost's office (Tennessee, Kansas State, CSU). At CSU, I serve as Associate Provost, mainly working on strategic initiatives, and as Executive Director of the Association for Undergraduate Education at Research Universities, a Boyer-inspired national consortium of leading research universities dedicated to innovation and excellence in undergraduate education. Both roles are a privilege and honor, as is my service on the Board of Larimer County's Foothills Gateway, Inc. Each role requires plenty of sociological thinking (and acting). I also continue to read and write in sociology, as time permits, and I pursue creative writing as well, such as in the form of a recently published novel and a forthcoming collection of essays and short stories. What a "biography" is, is a complicated thing. I've often thought so, and in spare time enjoy reading memoirs especially.

Publications

Main Works: A Town Abandoned: Flint, Michigan, Confronts Deindustrailization (SUNY 1996); with Maude Falcone, A Wrong Life: Studies in Lifeworld-Grounded Critical Theory (JAI 1998); Taking It Big: Developing Sociolological Consciousness in Postmodern Times (Pine Forge 2001).

Recent Works: Say Hey Little Prince: A Novel (Owl Canyon Press 2020); "Unpacking First-Gen Discourse: A Sociological Perspective," in At the Intersections: Understanding and Supporting First-Generation Students (Stylus Press 2021); "C. Wright Mills: Exact Imagination, Late Work," forthcoming in The Routledge International Handbook of C. Wright Mills Studies. 

First Generation Story

I am a first-generation college student who was raised by an aunt-&-uncle, as my parents had passed away when I was young. I got lucky. They were great parents and they encouraged me to value education. My best friend was going to college, so I went with him, to a land-grant university about an hour away from home where I took advantage of everything. :)