The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


The year 1940 saw the premature death of Roderick D. McKenzie, the first chairman of a department that had become independent in 1930 after 36 years of sociological instruction under the wing of the Economics Department. Dr. Robert C. Angell succeeded as chairman. Under the shadow and reality of World War II the department operated at a reduced level until 1945-46. For 25 years thereafter the department enjoyed increased enrollments at both undergraduate and graduate Page  221levels, growing numbers of concentrating juniors and seniors — from about 65 to more than 200 in the early seventies.

Despite great expansion, the undergraduate program was carried on in much the same way and at much the same level of quality as it had been before 1940. There were, of course, shifts in the balance among substantive fields, most notably the introduction of social anthropology and greater emphasis on social psychology and methods of research.

At the graduate level, changes were much more marked. Fewer entering students were expecting to leave the University after receiving an M.A. After 1960 none were admitted who were not pursuing the Ph.D. Whereas before 1940 graduate students needing support had to become teaching assistants or find nonacademic work, after World War II many were supported by the G.I. Bill or won fellowships provided by such organizations as the Ford Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.

The surge in graduate work was greatly furthered by the creation of new units, both within and without the department. The first such development was the coming in 1946 of a research team from the Federal Bureau of Agricultural Economics to form the Survey Research Center under the leadership of Dr. Rensis Likert. The members of this group were principally social psychologists. Several of them were appointed to part-time teaching positions in the Sociology and Psychology departments. Two years later four M.I.T. professors were brought to this campus to form the Research Center for Group Dynamics. The Institute of Social Research was then created to include the two centers, with Dr. Likert as Director.

The addition to the faculty of a number of distinguished social psychologists suggested the creation of a doctoral program in social psychology jointly supported and administrated by the Sociology and Psychology departments. Such a program was approved by the Graduate School in 1947. Dr. Theodore Newcomb, a member of both departments, was selected as the Program's director. Staff members were recruited as teachers from both departments. This innovation was an immediate success. Because admission to the Program required a year's successful graduate work in either of the departments, the students were doubly screened. The number of Page  222admissions per year rose from 12 at the beginning to 20 in the middle fifties. The Program was phased out, however, after 20 years because of difference in educational philosophy between the two departments.

In 1951 the department approved the proposal of Dr. Angus Campbell, then head of the Survey Research Center, and Dr. Ronald Freedman to set up the Detroit Area Study. This is a practicum for first-year graduate students. Typically each year a professor is authorized to conduct a sample survey on a subject bearing on his professional interest, for which interview data would be fruitful. The students in the class receive training by participating in the planning of the interview schedule, taking interviews, coding the resulting schedules for machine analysis, and writing individual reports on some aspect of the investigation.

Dr. Amos H. Hawley was appointed chairman in 1952 and served until 1961. Striking progress continued in research activity. On the initiative of the School of Social Work and with the support of the Russell Sage Foundation, a new doctoral program was established in 1956, the Joint Program in Social Work and Social Science under the direction of Dr. Henry Meyer. The first candidates were admitted in the fall of 1957. This program was the first of its kind and has proved successful in producing broadly-trained workers for the field of social welfare. Through 1975, some 80 of the Ph.D.s awarded were in Social Work and Sociology.

The Center for Research in Social Organization was established within the department in 1960. For ten years the main fields of graduate specialization had been social organization, social psychology, and human ecology and population. Social organization was the most diffuse concept of the three and it was felt that students in that general area needed a focus for their efforts and a place where they could work on research projects.

In 1961 Guy E. Swanson took over as chairman of the department, serving until 1964. He was followed by Albert E. Reiss, 1964-70, and Howard Schuman in 1970-74.

The period 1961-75 began with the establishment of the Population Studies Center. This was a natural development Page  223of three circumstances: the growing interest in demography because of the population explosion, the grants that were coming to departmental members from the Population Council and the Rockefeller Foundation for studies in fertility, and the need for a workplace for the graduate students, including many foreign nationals, who were enrolling. The most distinctive feature of the Center has been its long active and productive relation with institutions in Taiwan, where a sharp reduction in fertility has been achieved. Members of the staff have also had extensive consultations on lowering birth rates with agencies in other developing countries (e.g., Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, and Mexico), and with governmental and international organizations.

The Center has also conducted significant studies of population distribution and redistribution in the United States, especially as they relate to racial segregation.

The presence of the Institute of Social Research and the Population Studies Center outside the department but with participating professors in them, and the Center for Research in Social Organization within the department has facilitated the obtaining of professorial research grants.