Bobo Hired In Afro-Am, Sociology

Prominent young University of California sociologist Lawrence D. Bobo has accepted a joint tenure position in Harvard's Afro-American Studies and Sociology departments.

"I think it's the most exciting place to be right now for me, both intellectually and professionally," Bobo, 38, said in an interview from his office in Los Angeles yesterday.

Bobo, who is currently director of UCLA's Center for Research on Race, Politics and Society, has been at that school since 1990. His areas of study include intergroup attitudes, political sociology, social psychology, race and ethnic relations.

"He is one of the best survey researchers in the country.... He is one of the most widely cited researchers," said William Julius Wilson, Wiener professor public policy at the Kennedy School of Government. "He's going to be another superstar."

Bobo said he was drawn to the University by the opportunity to work with the faculty members in the two departments.


"It really is the combination of people who are converging in Cambridge at the moment," Bobo said. "It's a challenge for me that either staying where I am or returning to the University of Michigan didn't quite add up to."

Bobo met many of those scholars at a recent recruitment dinner at Gates' home, which also included guests John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

"It was a great dinner to be at," Gates said.

Bobo's appointment will strengthen the empirical side of the Afro-American Studies Department's work, Wilson said.

"[Bobo] had so many job offers it was amazing," said Henry Louis Gates Jr., chair of the Afro-American Studies Department. "His work is very exciting, pathbreaking.... It's a major coup."

The announcement is the latest in a string of appointments over the last six years which has turned Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department into the most prominent in the country.

Gates said the department has begun to focus on social science and the possibility of a Ph.D. program.

"We always had planned to make initial appointments in the humanities and then to follow those with the social sciences," Gates said. "We need [Bobo] because we're just beginning to build the social science component."

Bobo, who earned his B.A. at Loyola Marymount University and his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, is the author or co-author of numerous books and articles.

"Among the things I am working on at the moment is a project dealing with dynamics of inequality in major metropolitan areas," Bobo said.

This current project is a study of the intersection of labor market conditions, neighborhood conditions, segregation and intergroup dynamics in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit and Boston.

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