Mario Small appointed next dean of Social Sciences Division

Prof. Mario L. Small has been appointed dean of the Social Sciences Division for a five-year term, President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum announced. Small’s appointment takes effect on July 1.

Small is currently professor in sociology and the College and chair of Sociology. Recognized as a leading sociologist of his generation, Small’s research focuses on the creation of community and social capital in urban spaces. He joined the faculty in 2006.

In a joint email to Division faculty, Zimmer and Rosenbaum wrote that they were seeking a scholar and leader who would work with faculty to define the division’s intellectual and educational direction, while building support for the division. An elected advisory committee of Social Sciences faculty recommended Small for the post.

“This demanded a dean with outstanding scholarly credentials, who was a collaborative leader for the faculty, and who would work with other deans, the provost and the president to help build and fulfill the highest aspirations of the University. In appointing Mario to this position, we are confident in his ability to be such a leader,” the president and provost wrote.

“The Division has produced many of the most important ideas in social science over the past 100 years,” Small said. “I am honored by this opportunity, and I hope to serve the Division to the best of my abilities.”

Small succeeds John Mark Hansen, the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in Political Science and the College, who is stepping down after two five-year terms as dean. The president and provost praised Hansen for exceptional service.

“Mark has shaped the Division, appointing more than half of its current faculty while dean, and has helped transform the educational experience for graduate students and undergraduates alike. As professor, chair, dean and deputy provost, Mark has been emblematic of the values of the University of Chicago,” they wrote.

Small, a native of Panama, earned his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in 1996 and his doctorate in sociology from Harvard University in 2001, working with William Julius Wilson. He served on the faculty at Princeton University from 2002 to 2006.

Small is the author of two books, Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio (Chicago, 2004) and Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life (Oxford, 2009), and nearly two dozen articles and chapters. Villa Victoria received numerous honors, including the C. Wright Mills Award for Best Book and the Robert E. Park Award for Best Book. Unanticipated Gains also received the C. Wright Mills Best Book Award, making Small the sole two-time recipient in the history of the award. 

Small is currently studying institutional approaches to urban disadvantage, formal and informal systems of support among low-income mothers, and help-seeking behavior among students in higher education. He led a team that recently launched the Urban Portal, an initiative to bring together the University’s disparate programs of urban research into a powerful force for transformational scholarship on urban issues. 

Small also has served as associate editor of the American Journal of Sociology and is currently editorial board member of Social Science Quarterly, City and Community, and Sociological Forum, a council member of the American Sociological Association, and a trustee of NORC at the University of Chicago.