New Chair for Sociology Department: Grace Kao

Department News
July 11, 2018

We are happy to announce that as of July 1, 2018, the new Chair of the Sociology Department is Grace Kao. An expert on race, migration, and education Kao arrived at Yale from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. She will be the first person of color to Chair our Department. In addition to leading Sociology, Kao will continue her role as Faculty Director of Education Studies at Yale. She will also be kept busy as Vice-President of the American Sociological Association. One of Kao’s initial priorities will be to lead our search for multiple faculty in the quantitative study of inequality. When asked about becoming Chair, Kao smiled and said “I’m thankful to my colleagues and the administration for expressing their trust in me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with my colleagues to recruit the next generation of faculty at Yale. I look forward to working with Phil Gorski (Incoming Director of Graduate Studies) and Rene Almeling (Director of Undergraduate Studies) to continue our revitalization of our graduate and undergraduate training. I am lucky to have the support of the wonderful staff in the Sociology Department. I also express my deep appreciation to outcoming Chair Phil Smith for his hard work and enthusiasm for the department during his term.”

The customary term for a Chair in our Department is three years. On June 30, 2018 Philip Smith stepped down having led Sociology since 2015. He says: “It was a rewarding time because as Chair you are in a position to help people reach their goals. I learned a lot about how the university works both as a formal, rule-governed institution and as a place where character, personality and generosity play a role in shaping outcomes. I’d like to thank my colleagues and our administrative staff for going the extra mile time and time again when I needed help to get the job done.” Smith is heading off to Oxford on sabbatical where he will be working on a book on the history of Durkheimian thought.