Honoring the Memory of Our Colleague Amy Denissen
The CSUN community was saddened to hear about the death of Dr. Amy Denissen, who passed away on May 1, 2016. She died at the age of forty-three, after a six-year journey with ovarian cancer. Amy began her academic career in her home state of Wisconsin earning her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Sociology from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA. Amy joined the Sociology faculty at CSUN in 2006 and was an active member of the CSUN community. She served on many university committees and as a member of the University Faculty Senate. As a public sociologist, Amy did research in the areas of Gender, Sexuality, Work, Labor, and Organizations. Her research on women in the building trades (electricians, surveyors, carpenters, and metal workers) highlighted the ongoing discrimination that women face in this male dominated field. Amy’s research appeared in both academic journals such as Gender and Society and The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography and reports published by the City of Los Angles Labor Committee on Construction Opportunity.
An advocate for labor and social justice issues, Amy was a CFA activist, the Organizing and Membership Chair (2011-12) and a member of the California Faculty Association’s Executive Board on our campus. In 2011 she carried out a study for the UCLA Civil Rights Project on the impact the budget crisis had on faculty and students at CSUN. Amy was a beloved teacher and mentor who worked closely with undergraduate students in the Work & Society option within the sociology major. She was also very involved with the master’s degree program, serving on thesis and comprehensive exam committees and teaching courses on Feminist Theory and Qualitative Methods. Amy was an engaged colleague who could be depended on to complete any task. She strongly believed in public higher education and the opportunities it provides for a diverse student body. Her dedication and devotion to her students, colleagues, friends, and the broader community will be sorely missed but not forgotten. An academic award named in her honor will be given out each year at the Sociology Department’s annual honors dinner. A memorial service to celebrate Amy’s life and legacy will be taking place in the coming weeks on campus, details will follow.
The Department of Sociology and faculty are committed to creating a supportive environment for student centered learning and achievement. Our students are exposed to all aspects of sociology and acquire sociological perspectives and the techniques for studying society. They learn to critically examine the value assumptions of our institutions and social practices, including the values and practices of our discipline itself. This reflexive stance is an essential element of sociological understanding. Our students will learn how sociology been used to solve problems for clients, foundations, agencies, and the community, and has contributed to social policy formulation and policy analysis. They will learn how sociologists engage in dialog and engagement with different publics in the civil society. Through their education, our students will understand that sociology and civil society are interdependent, both flourishing in an open and democratic discourse on the issues and crises of modernity.