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Wimberley named 2010 Distinguished Rural Sociologist

Dr. Ron Wimberley

Dr. Ronald Wimberley, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of sociology and anthropology at N.C. State University, has been named 2010 Distinguished Rural Sociologist by the Rural Sociological Society. Wimberley received the society’s highest recognition in August at its 73rd annual meeting in Atlanta.

The Distinguished Rural Sociologist award, based on overall professional accomplishments in rural sociology, honors RSS members who have made superior career contributions to the field of rural sociology through research, teaching, extension, public service and/or public policy.

Among Wimberley’s accomplishments in the sociology of agriculture and rural development, the award especially recognized his research and policy work to improve the impoverished conditions of the Black Belt South, the largest and poorest rural region of the United States. The Black Belt stretches across nine Old South plantation states including North Carolina. Wimberley’s work led to the creation of a federal regional commission to serve the people and places of the Black Belt. The legislation is part of the 2008 U.S. Farm Bill. 

Current and former N.C. State faculty and graduate students were prominent among those attending the RSS event in August, Wimberley said.

“Graduate student Abby Cameron received a RSS Ph.D. grant, and Stephanie Teixeira-Poit served as the elected graduate student member of the Society’s Council,” he said. “Many others presented papers at the meeting.”

Last year, Dr. Robert Moxley, N.C. State professor emeritus of sociology, also was honored as the Distinguished Rural Sociologist. It is unusual for faculty members from the same university to earn the award two years in a row, Wimberley said.   

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology has programs of study, research and extension in N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Wimberley has been a member of the department’s faculty since 1971, including serving as department head from 1981 to 1985. He received his 1963 bachelor’s degree in sociology from Louisiana College, his 1967 master’s degree from Florida State University, and his 1972 Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.

The RSS is a professional social science association that promotes the generation, application and dissemination of sociological knowledge. The society seeks to enhance the quality of rural life, communities and the environment. – Terri Leith