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It is no secret that for college and university professors, often the greatest pressures come from outside the classroom—thanks to the paradoxical nature of academia.
While students pay top dollar for what they hope will be an opportunity to learn from great teachers, frequently what makes or breaks professors is not whether they develop powerful lectures or syllabi that lead students to significant intellectual growth. Instead, success in the academic world is commonly predicated on receipt of research grants and the publication of research articles.
The wealth of experience and enormous energy that Debra Umberson brings to the editorship of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior can be seen by a brief look at her amazing career. She started at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, earning a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in 1980 and an MSW in 1981. Four years later, in 1985, she had completed both her MA and PhD in sociology at Vanderbilt University under the direction of Walter R. Gove. After a three-year tour at the University of Michigan including positions as Visiting Scholar and National Institute of Mental Health Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research, she took a position as Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Austin. Within four years, she had tenure and promotion to Associate Professor and in another four years was promoted to Professor. She is now Christie and Stanley E. Adams, Jr., Centennial Professor in Liberal Arts at the University of Texas. Along the way, she served five years as Chair of her department, has held many key leadership positions in the fields of mental health, medical, family, and aging and life course sections of the ASA, and has served as reviewer on awards, nominations, and scientific panels too varied and numerous to mention.
Although changes were taking place before 1996, the Olympic Games in Atlanta were a turning point. Previously, a regional powerhouse, the Atlanta metropolis grew out of its regional shell into a national, if not global, metropolis. The Olympics represent a watershed moment stimulating immigration to metropolitan Atlanta, which expanded international businesses and contributed to a booming construction industry; employers increasingly relied on immigrant labor. Consequently, immigration became a key component to the Atlanta area’s expansion. The city itself tripled its foreign-born population between 1980 and 2000 up to 6.5 percent of the total population (Jaret, Hayes, and Adelman 2009), and the percentage was higher in suburban areas.
Using the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) data (2008), the percentage of foreign-born residents in metropolitan Atlanta now stands at almost 15 percent, compared to 11 percent in 2000. Atlanta remains a predominantly white and black area with whites making up 52 percent and blacks 32 percent of the population. But at 15 percent of the metropolitan population, the foreign-born population brings substantial change to a southern area once dominated by a white-black paradigm. Politics, culture, and education are being affected by these population dynamics.