Associate Professor of Sociology, Associate Dean of the College, and Faculty Director of First Year Experience
Originally from South Carolina, Carey Usher came to MBC in 2002 after completing her graduate work at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her dissertation research examined effects of neighborhood context and social capital on physical and mental health. Further extension of this study focused on social capital and community investment in high poverty areas. Her teaching interests include medical sociology, community and urban sociology, and research methodology. Current research focuses on student success in higher education, with emphases in transition, community cohesion and teaching and advisement. She is a strong supporter of single-gender education, having completed her undergraduate degree at Converse College in South Carolina. She advises several student organizations, including the Sociology Club, Habitat for Humanity, Campus Girl Scouts, Soles for Souls, and College Republicans, and the Alpha Kappa Delta and Alpha Lambda Delta honor societies. Drs. Usher and Stuhlsatz are currently serving as Co-Principal Investigators on a gang-assessment initiative with the Office on Youth.
In her spare time, Dr. Usher likes to read, drink coffee, garden, knit/crochet, and spend time with her family and pets. She lives in Staunton with her husband Bryan, their 5 boys, and too many animals.
This Associate Professor of Sociology’s research includes work on educational attainment, race, religion, and environmental issues. His areas of interest include social movements, environmental sociology, community service, social inequality, sociology of education, sociology of religion, and mountaineering. Stuhlsatz received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Wichita State University; a master’s degree in sociology from University of Wyoming, and a PhD in sociology from University of Virginia.
Associate Professor of Health and Studies of Gender and Sexuality
Sexuality and Gender Studies is coordinated through the Sociology, Anthropology, Sexuality and Gender Studies Department by Dr. McCleaf.. She has served the MBC community as a faculty member since 1984. Academic degrees include BS and MS degrees from James Madison University; Harrisonburg, Virginia and an Ed D in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix; Phoenix, Arizona. Professor McCleaf’s qualitative dissertation examined the identity development and academic success of sexual minority women. Her current research continues this line of inquiry to further understand the with-in group status and structures that affect learning and academic success for sexual minorities. Dr. McCleaf’s classes offer students opportunities to inquiry into the discipline of sexuality and gender studies.
In the off hours during the academic year she spends her time writing, researching, fly fishing, and enjoying the company of family, friends, and her big yellow lab, Ringo. Although a resident of Staunton, during the fall and spring, the height of trout season, you can find her at the nearest coldwater fishing spot throughout the beautiful state of Virginia.
Hi, I’m Bob. I’m an adjunct assistant sociology professor and academic advisor for the Adult Degree Program at Mary Baldwin College. Thanks for taking the time to read about my areas of interest in sociology and life in general.
Sociology’s emphasis on the examination of social forces fascinates me. I became interested in the field when I took my first sociology class in the late 1980’s, when I was attending Piedmont Virginia Community College in order to earn a business administration degree and learn information that would help me run my residential painting business. I fell in love with sociology and decided that I wanted to get my bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in sociology so that I could teach these ideas to college students. I especially appreciate the critical thinking skills that sociology can help to foster. My main areas of interest in sociology include marxian, feminist, and critical theory. I am particularly interested in critiques of capitalism and any forms of exploitation that occur along the lines of race, class, gender, status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. I am also a member of Sociologists without Borders, an international sociological association that is dedicated to furthering human rights and social justice around the world.
I earned my bachelor’s degree from Longwood University and my master’s degree from North Carolina State University, and I am currently a PhD student at NCSU. I have been a non-traditional student throughout my academic career, so I understand and empathize with the unique circumstances that non-traditional students face while trying to earn a college degree.
While I enjoy doing statistical analyses, most of my research has been participant observation and theoretical in nature. My master’s thesis is titled “Construction Worker’s Reactions to Structural Alienation and Inequality.” I gathered my data for this project by working beside workers on expensive and extravagant houses. I wanted to find out what these workers think about the vast differentials of income, wealth, status, and power that exist in this society. I found that most workers usually don’t give this issue much thought and often focus their attention on areas of their lives that they feel they do have control over such as their interactions with their families and friends as well as their hobbies and religious activities.
I began doing construction work early in my life, as my father is a painting contractor, and I spent many summers working on construction sites while I was in high school. Construction has financed much of my college education, and I still enjoy getting out and climbing ladders and swinging a paint brush — every once in a while, that is. I’m still doing some construction work in order to gather more data for my dissertation, which is a participant observation study that focuses on the structure of the work process itself on these often unique houses. I compare Marx’s structural critique of capitalism with the conditions that exist on the jobsite of these nice houses. So far, I have found that the workers on these jobs experience quite a bit more control over the work process itself than do workers in jobs similar to those described by Marx and other marxists. Both Marx’s discussion of alienation and his critique of capitalism focused on manufacturing jobs which usually include much routinized labor where the workers are told exactly how to carry out even the most basic tasks of their jobs. Many of the workers I study have much more control over how they do their work because they are confronted with projects that are unique and cannot be completed by a set way of doing things. Many of these workers are content with their jobs because they believe that they are lucky to have their particular job, and because they believe that many of the jobs available in the society are much less desirable.
I have taught lecture courses at NCSU (including Principles of Sociology, Social Problems, and Theories of Social Structure). I have been teaching the on-line Methods in Sociological Research course for Mary Baldwin College since the fall of 2005. This is my second year as an academic advisor for the Adult Degree Program, and I work out of the Weyer’s Cave office at Blue Ridge Community College. (Stop by and see me some time if you want to talk about the Adult Degree Program or if you want to talk about sociology. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
In what little spare time I have from my studies and work, I enjoy hiking and bass fishing. Sherry, my wife of 22 years, and I both enjoy gardening and raising animals. We currently obediently serve numerous goldfish, koi, and betas, 6 cats (8 if you count the two strays that we feed as well), 2 goats, 2 dogs, and a horse on our farm in Nelson County.
Dr. Gauri Rai is an associate professor of social work and has been a faculty member of Mary Baldwin College since 2004. He has a BA and MAS from Kashi Vidyapith University, Varansai, India, an MSW from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, a PhD in Social Work from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and an LISW (licensed independent social worker) from Ohio Licensing Board of Counselors and Social Workers.
Dr. Rai is the recipient of a graduate fellowship from St. Louis City hospitals and clinics, Missouri, a doctoral fellowship from National Institute of Mental Health, and a training grant in Small System Management to MSW students for three years. His social work practice experience includes service to military families, American Red Cross; long term illness committee, medical social work, child welfare, and mental health.
Prior to Mary Baldwin College, Dr. Rai has taught at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, SUNY Buffalo, New York, University of Akron, Ohio and James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. Currently he teaches Introduction to Social Work, Human Behavior and Social Environment, Social Work Practice, Social Welfare Policy, and Child Welfare. Dr. Rai has provided leadership to a BSW program to obtain initial accreditation for seven years and reaffirmation from Commission on Accreditation, Council on Social Work Education. He has served as a member of accreditation site-visit teams.
Dr. Rai’s research interests include the pattern of growth and development in community organizations and institutions, impact of parenting on personality development of pre-adolescent and adolescent children, alcoholism in women, program evaluation of mental health agencies, bureaucratic inflexibility in public child welfare system, and international social welfare education in the United States. Currently, he is working on a research project titled “Organizational determinants of resident satisfaction in long term care facilities.” His recent professional presentations include: Resident satisfaction in long term care facilities (in the conference of Southern Gerontological Society, Greensboro, North Carolina) and Burnout among a staff of long term care facilities (in the conference of Gerontological Society of America, San Francisco, California.) Dr. Rai has published in Social Service Review, Administration in Social Work, and International Social Work.
Dr. Rai is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, and the International Federation of Social Workers and Inter-University Consortium for International Development. He has also been serving as a board member of United Way of Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro, Virginia for the last three years. He is a proud father of five daughters.
Mary Clay Thomas
Mary Clay is an associate professor of social work and the newest faculty member in the department. She recently relocated to Staunton, Virginia after spending ten fabulous years in Burlington, Vermont. A graduate of Saint Timothy’s School, an all female high school in Stevenson, Maryland, Mary Clay went on to earn her BA from the University of Montana in English and Psychology and an MSW from the University of Vermont where she was a recipient of the Vermont Title-IVE Scholarship.
Most recently, Mary Clay taught social work courses, supervised field work, and advised the social work club at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. Mary Clay’s professional interests are diverse as she has practiced social work in varying states and agencies. She worked as a child protection social worker for the State of Vermont’s Department of Social Welfare, where she was nominated for the Vermont Social Worker of the Year Award, and was a school social worker at Mallet’s Bay Elementary School. She has extensive experience working with the elderly, battered women, and international adoption. She spent a year teaching English in Puyo, Ecuador and enjoys traveling to Nairobi, Kenya to visit her sister, brother-in-law, and four nieces and nephews.
Mary Clay enjoys spending time with her husband Matt, a Disability Services Specialist at James Madison University, and her daughters Anna and Reid. She loves to garden, run, and play in Gypsy Hill Park and explore the outside playground of her new home state!
Dr. Wightman received a BA in history and anthropology from Miami University of Ohio, an MA in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma, and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma.
After completing her doctorate in May 2009, Dr. Wightman joined the faculty at Mary Baldwin College for fall semester 2009. Her dissertation, entitled “Honoring Kin: Gender, Kinship, and the Economy of Plains Apache Identity” addresses the complicated articulations and lived experiences of contemporary Native American identities. Dr. Wightman’s research interests also include the culture and history of Oklahoma, regional American identities, the relationship between gender ideologies and cultural/national identities, the history of anthropology, and the lived experiences of marginalization in Native communities and beyond. In her spare time, Dr. Wightman likes hanging out with her husband and pets (two Australian Shepherd mixes, Ollie and Bean, and one cat, Leo), reading, listening to music, trying to be artsy (mostly turning lumps of clay into misshapen pots) traveling, watching college football, skiing, and cooking.