RSU Dean Honored with Distinguished Book Award

Dr. Frank ElwellThe Mid-South Sociological Association has announced Dr. Frank Elwell, dean of the Rogers State University School of Liberal Arts, as the winner of the 2014 Stanford M. Lyman Distinguished Book Award.

The organization recognized Elwell for his 2013 book, “Sociocultural Systems: Principles of Structure and Change,” which addresses the importance of studying large-scale social structures and the fundamental principles of social organization.

Known as macrosociology, this style of sociology was practiced by the founders of the sociology discipline, but it has received less attention as the discipline has concentrated on specialty areas such as deviance, family, or social stratification. The book is published by Athabasca University Press.

The Lyman Award will be presented at the Mid-South Sociological Association’s 40th annual MSSA Awards Banquet on November 7 in Mobile, Alabama. The award was established in memory of influential sociology educator Stan Lyman to honor MSSA members whose recently published work makes a significant contribution to the field of sociology.

One of the judges said of Dr. Elwell’s work: “This book reinvigorates the critical importance of sociology and demonstrates its soundness in making insights into social change and societal evolution. At a time in which much of the focus in teaching sociology is concerned with specific studies regarding social issues, this book offers a more holistic framework for understanding sociology from a macro-standpoint.”

The judges also noted that book constructs a framework for understanding the evolution of modern industrial societies—how we got here and where we are going.

“Really, that was the goal of sociology in the beginning of the discipline and that should be one of our major goals now as well,” Dr. Elwell said.

A 35-year college teaching veteran, Dr. Elwell has taught such courses as sociological theory, medical sociology, social problems and introductory sociology. He has written six books, all of which are centered on social problems and social theory.

“I am particularly proud of this book, and it is the culmination of work that spans more than 20 years,” Dr. Elwell said. “I am also proud that Athabasca Press is an open-source press. Meaning that in addition to publishing this book in hard copy and in e-book format, they make it available free to anyone with access to the Internet. This very much appeals to my sense of community.”

Dr. Elwell began his career as a sociologist in 1979 at Murray State University in Kentucky, where he rose through the ranks to professor and eventually became chair of the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department. He joined RSU in 2000 as the founding dean of the School of Liberal Arts and has served in that capacity since that time.

More information about RSU’s School of Liberal Arts.