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LDS scholars mourn the death of a ‘generous’ groundbreaking sociologist who guided generations of Mormon academics

Armand Mauss.
Armand Mauss

Armand Mauss was one of the most prominent scholars of Mormonism — even though very few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would recognize his name.

The large man in his signature Hawaiian shirt and neatly trimmed beard was heralded as a preeminent social scientist for his groundbreaking research on the LDS Church’s cycles of accommodation and retreat and on race and lineage. He was praised for helping to found the Mormon Social Science Association, for his visionary leadership on the board of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, his long career as a sociologist, his teaching on Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, and his support for rigorous, independent research on the faith — and for mentoring generations of academics.

Mauss accepted a position as a professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University in Pullman, where he spent the next 30 years cranking out scholarly articles, many in the field of sociology of religion.

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The Salt Lake Tribu


‘I am Ana Karen Betancourt Macias, and I’m undocumented’

When Ana Karen Betancourt Macias introduces herself, she openly identifies herself as undocumented.

Ana Karen Betancourt Macias.
Betancourt Macias

“I introduce myself all the time as ‘I am Ana Karen Betancourt Macias, and I’m undocumented.’” Betancourt Macias, WSU Vancouver sociology graduating senior, said. “That was to make the people in the room feel uncomfortable, but also know that I was a force to reckon with.”

During her first year at WSU Vancouver, Betancourt Macias served as ASWSUV director of legislative affairs. It was her first time in student government, she said. In that position, she helped lobby for the Washington College Grant, formerly known as the state-need grant.

Betancourt Macias will be graduating this summer from WSU Vancouver with a bachelor’s in sociology. She said she is planning to apply to Harvard University for her master’s degree. She is also considering law school.

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The Daily Evergreen

Seven WSU faculty elected to Washington State Academy of Sciences

A third of this year’s class of new members in the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS) are from Washington State University.

Alair MacLean.

Alair MacLean, associate professor of sociology at WSU Vancouver, is among the newest cohort and was selected for her significant contributions to the study of veterans of the armed forces serving in war and peace time, and contributions to understanding who serves and how military service shapes their lives with respect to their employment and earnings as well as physical and mental health across the life course.

“We’re proud to have so many WSU faculty recognized by the Washington State Academy of Sciences,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “Our faculty are among the best in the world, and they are committed to using their expertise to address some of the most pressing challenges facing the state of Washington today.”

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WSU Insider

Spokane County undersheriff received suspension for saying ‘ex-wives should be killed’

A Spokane County undersheriff received a four-week unpaid suspension in January after he joked to a member of the Spokane Valley Precinct staff that “ex-wives should be killed.”

Policy violations by leadership in law enforcement can often create the precedent that the behavior is acceptable unless swift action is taken by the chief or sheriff, said Richard Bennett, professor of justice at American University who earned his doctoral degree in sociology/criminal justice at Washington State University.

“Leadership sets the tone,” Bennett said.

Bennett researches police organization and procedures along with comparative criminology, and comparative criminal justice. “If the leader shows no regard for abusive language or racial slurs … the consequences are there,” Bennett said.

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When the Sky Fell

Forty years later, the angry-looking ash cloud billowing above Mount St. Helens remains one of the most iconic images in state history. Those living in the state of Washington at the time of the May 18, 1980, eruption all have a where-were-you-when-it-blew moment.

Don Dillman.

Within an hour of the eruption, WSU geology alumnus Don Swanson (’60) was documenting the cataclysm from an airplane, flying in figure-eights on the south side of the volcano to film and take photos. On the other side of the state, students at WSU Pullman were studying for finals and doing everyday chores like laundry.

Don A. Dillman, now a Regents Professor in sociology, was roller skating with his wife and two young children. He wrote a detailed account, which the Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections at WSU Libraries keeps for posterity.

Swanson, now 81, went on to become the scientist-in-charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory and, later, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the rim of the Kilauea Caldera—where he still serves as scientist emeritus. But Mount St. Helens has never left him. He knew three people who perished in the blast zone and dedicated his career to better understanding eruptions in order to prevent similar tragedies. “I think about it almost every day,” he says.

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Washington State Magazine