Dubeck: 'I Am Flattered and Honored' to Win 2008 Aida Tomeh Award

When the North Central Sociological Association (NCSA) chooses a winner for its annual Aida Tomeh Distinguished Service Award, they have a certain type of person in mind.

Each year, they select someone who has served the NCSA in a single, truly outstanding activity, worked in many capacities, or served the group throughout their professional career – someone who honors the legacy of the late Tomeh, former professor in the sociology department of Bowling Green State University.

Associate professor of sociology Paula Dubeck, who earned the 2008 honor this spring, fits the bill on all counts.

The award has been presented to many distinguished NCSA members, including UC’s Professor Emeritus William E. Feinberg in 1999. That’s a fact Dubeck, a former NCSA president who serves as associate editor of the Sociological Focus journal, doesn’t take lightly.

“I am both flattered and honored,” says Dubeck, whose areas of research include women in professions, women in organization and politics and women and work.

“From my past experience, I know that the people who have received the Aida Tomeh Award have made tremendous contributions to NCSA over many years. They have been responsible for creating and maintaining an organization that has energy and responds to the needs – and changing needs – of its members, and that is an excellent means of mentoring aspiring and new professionals. So my being included in this select group is quite an honor.”

Her 30-year membership in NCSA, she says, has complemented and enhanced her research and career. And while she was president of the group in 2001-2002, a stint as vice president was even more gratifying.

“I have made a number of valuable professional contacts through shared research interests and also administrative and organizational interests,” says Dubeck, a PhD from Northwestern University who joined A&S in 1974. “Others from UC and elsewhere have played the role of mentor – even way back when mentoring was not formalized or a focus of efforts. And while my presidency was a culmination of a lot of efforts, I think my serving as vice president was one of the more gratifying periods for me. The NCSA vice president is responsible for organizing the ‘complete package’ of the meeting – research sessions, teaching sessions, workshops, poster sessions, invited speakers. Being able to arrange a successful meeting is very gratifying!”

Also gratifying, but demanding, is her work as associate editor of Sociological Focus, the NCSA’s quarterly journal. Under Steve Carlton-Ford, editor, and Dubeck, the publication of the journal has moved from local publishing to a national publisher. That transitioin has meant changes in their work, especially with regard to providing greater lead-time prior to publication. Carlton-Ford “has taken the lead on most of the administrative tasks in that regard, but both of us had to adjust our work patterns to accommodate new timetables,” Dubeck says. “Fortunately, that transition period is over and we have moved into a more predictable routine.”

Sociological Focus “keeps Steve and me ‘regularly busy,’” she says. “Because there is no set deadline for manuscripts to arrive, they come in at all times. Because the journal uses blind reviews for the review of manuscripts, there is a constant inflow-outflow of manuscripts, reviews, and letters. We have weekly meetings about the journal; our graduate assistant /editorial assistant keeps us on task and is invaluable in seeing that  we are mindful of decisions, deadlines, and future issue timetables.”

Her work is made easier, Dubeck says, by life in a department she headed for 17 years – one filled with people she really likes.

“During those years, I tried to develop a department culture that supported research, collaboration, quality teaching, and good interpersonal relationships,” she says. “My vision was one in which we could support people in their professional efforts, recognize their achievements, and deal fairly with each other.

“By doing so, we would make the department a positive, supportive, and pleasant working environment. I think, thanks to my colleagues, we have done that and continue to do so. This department has hired excellent faculty over the years. They are dedicated, hard-working professionals who contribute to the department, college and university. They are also professionally visible and are recognized by peers for their research. When I was head, they made my job easier because of their achievements. Since then, the work and practices continue, making this department an interesting and collegial place to work.”

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