After more than a century of combined teaching experience, this trio of retiring faculty members represents far more than the sum of their arts


"One of the reasons I stayed here-- I had been hired for a one-year visit--was that I encountered undergraduates who behaved like students in graduate seminars," says John Pock, professor of sociology. "They asked all the right kinds of challenging 'stupid' questions and were more interested in actively producing their own education than in collecting the bookkeeping notations of 'schooling.'"

Since Pock joined the Reed faculty in 1955, more than 70 of his students have earned doctoral degrees and established professional careers as sociologists. Many of those students are now professors themselves at leading universities including Stanford, Berkeley, Wisconsin, Chicago, Northwestern, and Columbia.



The American Sociological Association honored Pock in the mid-1980s with the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award, usually reserved for graduate teachers. "There is no single undergraduate teacher that has had such an effect on the discipline. It is quite astounding," says Neil Fligstein '73, who studied under Pock and is now a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley.

"There was a sense of tremendous excitement in his classes," recalls Donald J. Treiman '62, sociology professor at UCLA.

Pock earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, where he taught for several years before coming to Reed. His seminars, described as "tough," "rigorous," and "intense," forced students to think for themselves and to take themselves seriously as intellectual colleagues. Each student read different materials, took reading notes, and was expected to take the role of the author. Copies of those notes were distributed to the other students; conferences were expected to consist of task-oriented problem-solving activities centered more on the questions than on the answers that the texts generated. The idea was to turn everything into a falsifiable hypothesis. "Pock was the best translator of big ideas into empirical questions," Treiman says.

Treiman was one of three students (including James Baron '76 and David Grusky '80) who edited a festschrift, a collection of writings published in tribute to Pock. Social Differentiation and Social Inequality: Essays in Honor of John C. Pock (Westview Press) was presented to Pock in 1996 during a sociology reunion at Reed. In a review last March in Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, sociologist William T. Bielby observes that "Pock's students became key players in the development of the status attainment paradigm and in the 'new structuralist' and neoinstitutionalist scholarship" that arose from Pock's insistence that students determine which facts matter in an argument and that they get those facts.






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