North Carolina State University’s Rural Sociology Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology
McCann, the rural sociology program quickly emerged and established a regional and
national reputation through the 1950s and ‘60s.
Of these former faculty members and graduate students, Taylor, Anderson,
Loomis, Zimmerman, Hamilton, and Wilkening all served as presidents of the Rural
Sociological Society later in their careers. Taylor, Loomis, and Williams later served as
presidents of the American Sociological Society. And, Hamilton, Mayo, and Bates were
presidents of the Southern Sociological Society. Hamilton was also one of the first
William Neal Reynolds Professors at NC State.
The Department of Rural Sociology and the Department of Sociology and
Anthropology merged in 1965. This corresponded with the growth of the university and
the arrival of the baby boom cohort of undergraduates in the 1960s and ‘70s. During this
period and following the merger, faculty attention turned to heavy undergraduate student
loads and largely away from other scientific and professional accomplishments.
By 1980 and with new faculty recruited in the late 1960s and the 1970s—e.g., and
sequentially, William B. Clifford, Robert L. Moxley, Ronald C. Wimberley, James A.
Christenson, Maurice E. Voland, and Michael D. Schulman—the rural sociology program
was on its way to re-establishing its national reputation in research, graduate studies, and
extension. In the 1980s, Simon K. Garber, Luther B. Otto, Alton Thompson, and Thomas
J. Hoban arrived. Of them, Garber and Otto have retired as did Mayo, McCann, and A.
Clarke Davis. Alton Thompson has since taken a position at North Carolina A&T State
University where he has served as Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and
currently as Provost.
Today, NCSU’s rural sociology program can be ranked among the top handful of
such programs nationally. This standing has been regained with a relatively small
number of CALS positions and faculty—typically around six or seven tenure-track
positions split among research, academic affairs, and extension appointments. The CALS
rural sociology program now has approximately 8.5 faculty positions plus a share of the
department head’s administrative appointment. Two professors retired in the last two
years, and three new assistant professors were recruited during that period.
At this time, and according to length of service, the CALS rural sociology faculty
includes Wimberley, Schulman, Stephen Lilley, Maxine S. Thompson, Hoban, Edward L.
Kick, Andrew K. Jorgenson, Sarah Bowen, and Brett Clark. In addition, Clifford and
Moxley became emeritus professors in 2007 and continue to actively participate in
research and the graduate program.
In addition, adjunct professors now include Alton Thompson at North Carolina
A&T State University as well as former member of NCSU’s CALS faculty; Jack Thigpen
of the NCSU Sea Grants program; and James J. Zuiches, Vice Chancellor of Extension,