Anyone who pays attention to the news knows that STEM education and environmental sustainability are hot topics, deemed crucial to our country’s ability to remain competitive and to our long-term economic prospects. Since long before these topics started generating headlines, this year’s Class of ’39 Award for Excellence recipient has been applying her expertise to generate innovative and comprehensive approaches to these important topics.
Sociology professor Catherine Mobley’s research in these areas has not been isolated, as she has collaborated with colleagues in a variety of disciplines across campus. Whether she’s examining human behavior as it pertains to water quality and quantity, college student perceptions of environmental issues or the academic experiences and pathways of engineering majors, Mobley’s research is marked by creative collaboration and insights that “would not otherwise emerge if I were working in isolation.”
That creative collaboration in research has been supported by more than $10 million in grants on which she has been either principal or co-investigator. And it extends into the classroom as well. She has engaged in several interdisciplinary teaching endeavors, has mentored more than 300 students seeking field experience in sociology and has served on nearly 70 master’s and Ph.D. committees. A nationally recognized expert on service-learning, she has been a core faculty member for two living-learning communities: the Community Scholars/Civics and Service House and the Leading for the Environment and Future community. Mobley also extends her sociological expertise to her community efforts as well, having served on the board of several local organizations, including the United Way of Pickens County, the Upstate Homeless Coalition and the League of Women Voters of the Clemson Area.
This recognition is particularly meaningful to Mobley, knowing she was chosen by her peers for the award. “I’ve been walking by the Carillon Bell monument for nearly 20 years now, in awe of the people whose names are inscribed there,” she says. “Little did I know when I was attending Clemson University in the early 1980’s that I’d be here 30 years later, pursuing the career of my dreams.”
Described by Interim Dean Bobby McCormick as “a top researcher and dedicated teacher,” Mobley did her undergraduate work at Clemson, graduating in 1984. She earned her master’s in policy analysis and development at the University of Bath in England and her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Maryland. She returned to Clemson in 1996 as assistant professor of sociology, earning tenure in 2001 and promotion to professor of sociology in 2012.
The Class of 1939 established the Award for Excellence in 1989 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the class. It is presented annually to a member of the faculty whose outstanding contributions for a five-year period represent the highest achievement of service to the University, the student body and the larger community.