Tienda awarded first Lewis ProfessorshipUniversity alumnus endows chair in Sociology Marta Tienda, Chairman of Sociology, has been awarded the first Ralph Lewis Professorship in Sociology. The chair was established with a gift from alumnus Ralph Lewis, who retired after many years as a sociologist for the U.S. State Department.
"My experience at Chicago is connected to the core of my life," said Lewis (Ph.B.'32, A.M.'58). "It affected and benefited me in many ways that this gift, in part, is meant to repay." Especially influential to Lewis was Ernest Burgess, who was a founder of and pioneer in what has come to be known as the Chicago School of Sociology. "He was a mentor and role model to me," Lewis said. "He changed my life and shaped my career."
Following his graduation from the College in 1932, Lewis accepted a scholarship to the Chicago Theological Seminary. After serving as a minister in South Dakota and then as a parole officer in Chicago, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II. While in the army, he participated in the surveying of U.S. soldiers on such topics as racial and religious attitudes. After the war, he was involved in Marshall Plan efforts to rebuild Germany. He was part of a research team that surveyed the attitudes of German civilians, and he spent time in post-armistice Korea doing similar work.
Remembering Burgess' encouragement, Lewis returned to the University in the 1950s and received his A.M. in sociology in 1958. He continued to work for the State Department until his retirement in 1979. He now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif.
"A long time ago, I realized that if the world was to be saved, it would be through education," he said. "That probably sounds naive now, but those were the terms we thought in after the war. My gift alone won't save the world, but I still believe it can help."
Tienda is an expert on migration, employment and poverty among Latinos and has published extensively on those topics. She is the co-author of The Hispanic Population of the United States (1987), and she is the co-editor of Divided Opportunities: Minorities, Poverty and Social Policy (1988) and The Drug Connection in U.S.-Mexican Relations (1989). She is currently studying the problems of minority groups forming small businesses in Chicago and completing a book about race, ethnicity and opportunity in Chicago's poor neighborhoods.
Tienda joined the University faculty as Professor in 1987 after serving on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 11 years. She received her B.A. in 1972 from Michigan State and her M.A. in 1975 and her Ph.D. in 1977 from the University of Texas at Austin.
She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993.