New sociology faculty, same service focus


Story by Jonah Chickering, Reporter
Photo courtesy Jonah Chickering

The Aquinas College sociology department has had changes in its faculty. Dr. Susan Haworth-Hoeppner will be retiring and Dr. David Martin will be going to Grand Valley State University next semester. 

Dr. Micheal Lorr, the new chairperson of the department, explained that the college has had a successful search for qualified and talented faculty. They have hired Sean Young, a specialist of urban sociology who’s a PhD candidate at Loyola University Chicago, and Jenny Lendrum from Wayne State University, an expert of sociology of gender. Both of these candidates have published many research articles in their respective specializations. Young will be teaching a media and society course next semester. Lendrum will be teaching a course titled “Women, Girls and Leadership.” 

When asked about his own specialization in sociology, Lorr said, “One of my areas of research focuses on sustainable urban development. I looked at how the city incentivises business and individuals to use solar panels, green roofs, and mediated water usage.”

Lorr explained that the department is wholly focused on engaged community work and social activism. He said, “A few years ago the department won a grant from the Michigan Campus Compact. We redid our curriculum to focus on community activism and volunteer work.”

He explained that this focus is in every classroom from first year sociology classes to capstones. This year, capstone students are going to the Midwestern Sociological Society to present their research. All of this is possible due to grants the department has won and the focus it has on societal improvement through service.    

On top of being the new chairperson of the department, Lorr is also the director of the community leadership program. “A lot of my work with community leadership has been focusing on getting students to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. On the sociology side of things we are trying to make sure that the community engagement aspect that we have been focusing on for the last four or five years continues,” Lorr said. 

The new additions to the sociology department faculty will facilitate this continued focus on service and sustainability as a pillar of the department and Aquinas as a whole.     

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