The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

Sort Interviews by Affiliation or Theme

Alan Acock Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

March 2, 2017


“A Leading Scholar of Quantitative Analysis and Family Dynamics Alike”  March 2, 2017  Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Acock describes his upbringing and the changes in family fortunes that both impacted his life while a teenager and also helped to inform his empathy and world-view later on during his scholarly career. He likewise traces his early infatuation with public service and public policy, and recounts his undergraduate years in Political Science at Eastern Washington State College, a time period during which he married and became a father. He then recounts his enrollment in graduate studies at Washington State University, the transition that he made from Political Science to Sociology, and the progression of his interests in both sociological theory and quantitative analysis while a doctoral candidate.

From there, Acock recounts the series of academic appointments that he held prior to coming to Oregon State in 1990. In so doing, he touches upon his years at USC, noting his disinclination towards Los Angeles and the work that he conducted on primary groups during this time. He then recalls his two years at the University of Oklahoma, commenting on the departmental turmoil that helped to drive him away. He likewise reflects on four years spent at Virginia Tech, where he chaired the department's graduate program. Lastly, he shares his memories of six additional years at Louisiana State University, a time period during which he published two very influential papers related to marriage and divorce.

The remainder of the session is devoted to Acock's career at Oregon State University. In thinking back on that period of his career, Acock comments on his experiences and achievements while chair of the newly created Human Development and Family Sciences department; his work on three books - The Sourcebook of Marriage and Family Theory Research, Family Diversity and Well-Being and A Gentle Introduction to Stata - as well as an influential paper, "Working with Missing Values; and his association with the National Council on Family Relations as well as the Positive Action Program. Throughout this discussion, Acock alludes to his strengths as a quantitative analyst and communicator of statistical concepts. Acock likewise shares his perspective on strengthening family dynamics; reflects on his evolution as a teacher; and discusses the Hallie Ford Center as a place of work. The interview concludes with thoughts on change within HDFS and Acock's sense of OSU as it looks toward its 150th birthday.