North Carolina State University’s Rural Sociology Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology
North Carolina State University’s Rural Sociology Program in the
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the
Department of Sociology and Anthropology1
Ronald C. Wimberley
William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
North Carolina State University
March 5, 2009
This paper looks first at the past and present status of the rural sociology program2
at North Carolina State University, and second at past organizational and administrative
of the rural sociology program at this university and at alternative arrangements at other
Rural sociology began at North Carolina State College in 1920 with the arrival of
Carl C. Taylor and Carle C. Zimmerman. Taylor was the first sociologist at State
College, and Zimmerman was the first sociology graduate student as well as the first to
receive a master’s degree in 1921. In 1926, Jesse B. Mowrey was awarded NC State’s
first Ph.D., in sociology, with a dissertation on agricultural natural resource conservation.
Other early graduate students who became notable rural sociologists and
sociologists include Robin M. Williams, Jr., Charles P. Loomis, and Jane McKimmon.
With the later addition of faculty members such as W.A. Anderson, C. Horace Hamilton,
Selz C. Mayo, Frederick L. Bates, Eugene Wilkening, C. Paul Marsh, and Glenn C.
Updated June 2010. This paper draws in part from an unpublished manuscript, A History of Sociology at
North Carolina State University 1920-1984, by former department head Selz C. Mayo who knew
personally all of the rural sociology and sociology faculty in the department during that period and who
first came to North Carolina State College as a graduate student in 1935. This paper also draws from the
author’s experiences on leaves with USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension
Service, with program reviews at other land-grant universities, in offices of the Rural Sociological Society
and the Southern Rural Sociological Association, through participation on regional and multistate projects
with scientists from other land-grant universities, and from various directories and program guides of the
Rural Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. The author is responsible for the
information and interpretation presented here and regrets any errors.
In this paper, rural sociology refers to a dimension of sociological subareas typically addressed by rural
sociologists. These topics include rural sociology per se, community and community development,
demographic perspectives, rural social interaction patterns, rural culture, spatial sociology, the sociology of
agriculture, the sociology of food, natural resources, environmental issues, rural occupations and the rural
economy, sustainability, social change, innovation and diffusion, globalization, rural quality of life, applied
sociology, rural policies and programs, and other related topics.