ISR remembers and honors James S. Jackson with research symposium and atrium dedication

December 8, 2023

Contact: Jon Meerdink ([email protected])

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR) honored the life, career, and memory of James S. Jackson with a research symposium on Friday, December 1, 2023. ISR also renamed its atrium in Jackson’s honor, paying tribute to his long career as a pioneering researcher in the social sciences.

View videos, photos, and tributes shared by colleagues and friends of James Jackson.

Jackson’s career spanned across decades and disciplines, influencing national conversations on race, ethnicity, and their role in American culture. He founded the Program for Research on Black Americans in 1976, and it continues to be an influential voice in the conversation around race and racial group issues. In addition to serving on many national boards and advisory committees in different fields of scholarship, he was ISR’s director from 2005 through 2015. He passed away in 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

“As a champion of interdisciplinary collaboration, James’s influence extended to numerous areas of scholarship and to the role of scholarship in sports. As he leader, he shaped the university and his legacy lives on through his research and those he mentored,” said Kate Cagney, director of ISR, in her opening remarks at the event.

Researchers from numerous different fields and institutions spoke during the symposium, addressing Jackson’s national and international impact, his affect on the world of sports, his influence on the University of Michigan, and his ongoing influence on the social sciences through his research and the mentorship of up-and-coming social scientists.

Session 1 – National/International Impact

Recording of the opening remarks and Session 1 – National/International Impact
  • Moderator: Priti Shah, Psychology Department Chair and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: Richard J. Hodes, Director, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health (Video message)
  • Speaker: France A. Córdova, Former Director, National Science Foundation
  • Sheldon H. Danziger, President, Russel Sage Foundation; Distinguished University Professor of Public Policy, Emeritus, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: Anderson J. Franklin, The Honorable David S. Nelson Professional Chair Emeritus, School of Education and Human Development, Boston College
  • Speaker: James Nazroo, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester

Session 2 – Impact on Sports

Recording of Session 2 – Impact on Sports
  • Moderator: Robert Sellers, Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Education
  • Speaker: Thomas Paskus, Managing Director of Research, NCAA
  • Speaker: Robert W. Turner, II, Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, School of Medicine & Health Science, The George Washington University

Session 3 – Impact on the University of Michigan

Recording of Session 3 – Impact on the University of Michigan
  • Moderator: Frieda Ekotto, Lorna Goodison Collegiate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, Comparative Literature, and Francophone Studies, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: Mary Sue Coleman, President Emerita, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: Phil Hanlon, former Provost at the University of Michigan, President Emeritus and Trustees Professor of Mathematics, Dartmouth College
  • Speaker: Robert Sellers, Charles D. Moody Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Education

Session 4 – Impact on Research & Mentorship

Recording of Session 4 – Impact on Research & Mentorship
  • Moderator: Cleopatra Caldwell, Professor Emerita of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: M. Belinda Tucker, Professor Emerita, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences & Vice Provost Emerita, Institute of American Cultures, UCLA
  • Speaker: Robert Joseph Taylor, Harold R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Social Work, and Director Program for Research on Black Americans, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: David R. Williams, Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Chan School of Public Health; Professor of African & African American Studies, Harvard University
  • Speaker: Briana Mezuk, Professor, Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: Linda Chatters, Professor, Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, and Paula Allen-Meares Collegiate Professor of Social Work, University of Michigan
  • Speaker: Mosi Ifatunji, Assistant Professor, Department of African American Studies and Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Jackson’s impact stretches across disciplines and fields of study, but his impact in each area was informed and shaped by the same approach: a firm commitment to rigorous standards of social science research and a deep care for those who carried out the work.

“As a mentor and administrator, James’ wisdom was matched only by his patience,” said Rich Gonzalez, director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics. “His guidance was never prescriptive, but rather he provided a gentle nudge in the right direction. He also wasn’t shy, didn’t shy away from calling you out if that was necessary. He saw potential in each of us and believed in our ability to make meaningful contributions to the team.”

Jackson’s legacy at ISR and in the social sciences lives on through the James S. Jackson Emerging Scholars Fund. The fund is intended to extend the mentoring work of the PRBA through support for early-career academics, especially minorities, continuing Jackson’s work on behalf of the next generation of social science scholars.

More information:
Donate to the James S. Jackson Emerging Scholars fund
Symposium program

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