Three students from the inaugural cohort of Rice University’s School of Social Sciences’ Ph.D. program in Sociology graduated on May 12, 2017. Junia Howell, Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, and Kevin T. Smiley, all urban scholars asking questions about inequality, have each secured a tenure track job as an assistant professor.
“This year's inaugural class of Sociology Ph.D.’s is truly a stellar one. They came to Rice and put everything they had into the program, university and discipline. We could not be more pleased with not only what they learned but also contributed. They will continue to reflect brightly on the program for years to come and have set a high but inspiring bar for those soon to follow,” said James Elliott, Professor of Sociology, who will continue to conduct research with each of the graduates.
As of July 1, 2017 Junia Howell is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburg. Howell’s work seeks to illuminate how cities can be places of possibility for all residents. Elizabeth Korver-Glenn has joined the Department of Sociology at the University of New Mexico as an Assistant Professor, where she will continue to explore how race-making and inequality work together in apparently non-racial ways to reproduce segregated cities. Kevin. T. Smiley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University at Buffalo. Smiley’s research investigates environmental and urban inequalities. Howell, Korver-Glenn, and Smiley received job search guidance from all faculty, especially Jenifer Bratter, Director of Graduate Studies since 2015.
“Our three graduates are no longer our students, but now are our junior colleagues,” said Bridget Gorman Professor of Sociology and Department Chair. There are plans in place for Rice faculty to continue collaborating with the new graduates. Korver-Glenn has a forthcoming paper with Elliott and a current student on shifting inequalities in park access in Houston over the past seventy years.
Rice University launched Houston’s first Ph.D. program in 2011. “We felt we could fill an important niche,” said Gorman. In 2008, the sociology department received a generous, $6.4 million dollar grant from the Houston Endowment to design and launch a doctoral program at Rice University. This gift was viewed as transformative for Rice University and the City of Houston.
The program is now completely populated, with just over twenty students in the program at any given time. Scholars study a persity of issues pertaining to social inequality and culture. Rice’s Sociology Ph.D. program stands out from the competition because it offers an apprenticeship-model training program, in which students immediately begin working on faculty research projects when they arrive on day one. All students are fully funded, which reduces competition between students and helps build a supportive and cohesive student body.
Located in Houston, TX - a vibrant but understudied city that in many ways is the face of America's future, Sociology’s Ph.D. program is capitalizing on the momentum they have built, according to Gorman. The program seeks hardworking go-getters with a strong desire to learn how to do the sociological research they read about as undergraduate students. A strong sense of community exists within the graduate study body in sociology.
The Department of Sociology at Rice University has twelve professors. Elaine Howard Ecklund, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Religion and Public Life Program is taking on the role as Graduate Program Director in Fall 2017.
For more information on the Ph.D. Program, please visit:
Elaine Howard Ecklund, Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, Graduate Program Director and Director, Religion and Public Life Program
Bridget Gorman, Professor and Department Chair
For more information on the School of Social Sciences at Rice University, please visit: