The George M. Beal Distinguished Lectureship Reaches Fundraising Goal



The Department of Sociology at Iowa State University has reached its fundraising goal of $100,000 to endow the George M. Beal Distinguished Lectureship in Rural Sociology.

The George M. Beal Distinguished Lectureship in Rural Sociology was created to recognize and honor the life-long contributions of Professor George M. Beal in the creation and prominence of the Iowa State University Department of Sociology and to extend Dr. Beal’s legacy of addressing significant rural issues and trends impacting rural communities and rural people. Funds from this account are used exclusively for sponsoring an annual lecture from a distinguished rural social scientist/scholar that addresses rural transformations and issues impacting rural American and rural Iowa life.

“The Beal Lecture provides a terrific way to showcase the Department of Sociology at Iowa State,” said Chester Britt, sociology department chair. “At the same time, the Beal Lecture gives sociology faculty, staff, and students an opportunity to learn from the leaders in the field about ongoing research efforts as well as future trends and emerging issues in the study of rural communities.”

George Beal passed away in 2012 and the lectureship was established in 2013 with a lead gift from Don (Ph.D. 1969, Sociology) and Joye (M.S. 1969, Family Environment) Dillman.

“We don’t become what we are without the gifts others give us. George was a giant to me, and still is.” Dillman said. “Giving me the gift of confidence to depart from convention and try to develop new things was a very precious gift. That’s what I will remember most about this wonderful mentor, to whom I owe so much. George inspired me and countless others not to fall flat on our faces.”

George Beal influenced an entire generation of prominent sociologists, many who went on into professional careers that shaped the entire discipline. As major professor of nearly 100 Ph.D. and Master’s degree, George had an enormous influence on sociology, rural sociology and community development.

Professor of Sociology and former chair, Paul Lasley, was instrumental in helping the fund reaching its endowment goal. Paul credits the lead gift by Don and Joye Dillman and their leadership throughout the fund drive as an important factor for its success. Their generous gifts inspired other donors to step forward as well.

“If George was alive, he would be both humbled and honored by the generosity of his students, friends, and colleagues who have made this endowment possible.” Lasley said. “The success in the endowment drive reflects many personal warm feelings towards Dr. Beal and the strong support for the Sociology Department. This is an important bell weather event in the history of the department.”

Dr. Linda Lobao, Professor of Rural Sociology at the Ohio State University, has been selected to present the 2nd annual George M. Beal Distinguished Lectureship in Rural Sociology.
Lobao will present, “The Geography of Inequality: Local Governments and Community Well-Being across America,” Wednesday, April 6, in the auditorium of Curtiss Hall at Iowa State University. The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Inequality, disparities in poverty and privilege, has been a widespread public and scholarly concern. Conventionally, researchers focus on the nation-state as a whole or city neighborhoods, but less is known about disparities at the subnational scale across the United States. Lobao will present how sociologists are carving out the study of inequality at the subnational scale and recent research and key geographic disparities will be discussed with particular attention to rural areas.

Lobao received her Ph.D. from North Carolina in 1986 and her M.A. from University of South Florida in 1981. She has been a faculty member at Ohio State University since 1986 and has served as department chair of the rural sociology graduate program since 2005. Lobao was elected as a Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008.
Lobao’s research addresses spatial inequality, gender and social change, and community and regional development. She focuses on changes in industry and agriculture, government changes, and how these impact communities, households, and individuals.

Her 2007 book “The Sociology of Spatial Inequality” was recipient of the CHOICE Outstanding Title Award in 2007 and has been reviewed in countless journals including the American Journal of Sociology, Rural Sociology, and The Annuals of the Association of American Geographers.