Alan Gordon Hill, 77, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Delta College, University Center, Michigan, died on October 2, 2022, after a year of declining health. Alan was a resident of Tylers, South Carolina, and a native of nearby Greenville, where he graduated from high school in 1963 and earned a BA cum laude from Furman University in 1967. At Columbia University, he received both Master of Arts (1969) and Master of Philosophy (1973) degrees. While there, he co-authored several articles with physicians at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, who depended on his statistical skills to analyze their data.
Alan first taught Sociology at Furman University, frequently commenting on social and political issues for WYFF in Greenville. He then taught for twenty-five years at Delta College, where he retired in 2012. Although his career focused largely on teaching, he also engaged in research and service to Delta and the profession of sociology. His publications focused on the impact of computers on society and the sociology of religion.
Hill’s early and primary commitment to teaching stood out and is captured in a letter of recommendation from his major professor at Columbia, Robert K. Merton: “I single out Alan Hill as one of our better prospects … It was refreshing to discover his deep interest in teaching. Just about everything he has done as a graduate student has been designed to give him the kind of wide-ranging knowledge that he used as a teacher. Judging from his performance in seminars, he has a gift for exposition. He not only says what he has to say clearly but manages to interest his audience in the ideas he puts forward. I support his candidacy for a college teaching post without reservation.”
As an outstanding performer in the classroom, Hill received the 1989 “Outstanding Teaching Award” given by the Michigan Sociological Association and the 2000 “Distinguished Teaching Award” presented by the section of the American Sociological Association dealing with computers and society. Perhaps more than anyone, he advocated for and successfully brought the widespread use of computers for both teaching and research at Delta College.
Just as Alan’s teaching was often recognized, so was his service to his college, his profession, the larger academic community, and the public. His awards include a “Recognition Award for Governance” from the AAUP (1995), noting that he “represents the courage and integrity of academic freedom at its best. “He was a constant advocate for establishing a faculty union, was a board member and President of Delta’s AAUP chapter, and served on several of their committees. In May 2012, Alan was lauded for “twenty-five years of outstanding service to our students and the Delta College Community.”
Without a doubt, Alan’s constant and unswerving support for the Michigan Sociological Association was among his best acts of service. In 1998, he received the “Marvin Olsen Distinguished Service Award” for his support of sociology in the state of Michigan. In 2012, he received a special commendation for his many years of service to the MSA, and an issue of the Michigan Sociological Review was dedicated to him. In addition to long-term membership on the MSA Executive Board, he was President in 1991-92. He served as Executive Officer for twelve years, the longest-serving and best-performing occupant of that position. The MSA remains deeply in debt, and his absence will be felt for years to come.