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Coley’s research helps him earn Gundersen Award for Junior Faculty

Barry McNamara
Assistant Professor of Sociology Jonathan Coley (right) receives the Gundersen Award for Junior Faculty from Dean of Faculty David Timmerman.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – In a relatively short amount of time, professor Jonathan Coley has made a big impression on the Monmouth College community.

The assistant professor of sociology recently received the College’s Gundersen Award for Junior Faculty.

The Gundersen Award is presented to a Monmouth faculty member with fewer than four years of service who has engaged in exemplary scholarship, research or creative work. The award includes a $1,500 stipend.

“I’m very proud to work at a liberal arts college that values and promotes research by their junior faculty members,” said Coley, who joined the Monmouth faculty in 2016. “This award signals the College’s commitment to research.”

A scholar on social movements, Coley’s research focuses on efforts by minority groups to be included in conservative settings.

Coley’s first book will be published in March by University of North Carolina Press. Titled Gay on God’s Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities, the book explores LGBT activism at Christian-affiliated institutions of higher learning in the United States.

“Jonathan’s scholarly output goes well beyond his forthcoming single-authored book,” wrote his nominator. “He already has published 10 peer-reviewed articles, as well as a book chapter. In addition, he has a sizeable list of book reviews to his name.”

Coley – who has a doctorate in sociology from Vanderbilt University – is also working on an oral history project about the Civil Rights movement in Nashville, Tenn. That work has involved a collaboration with James Lawson Jr., one of the movement’s major leaders.

Coley has long had an interest in social movements. While a student at Samford (Ala.) University, he worked alongside two professors who were involved in efforts to bring about social change in the Birmingham, Ala., area.

“It was an extremely formative experience for me,” said Coley, who dedicated his forthcoming book to those professors.

Coley said he wants his classes to have a similar influence on students.

“I hope that my classes will instill in students values that enable them to become active and engaged citizens,” he said.

Established in 2014, the Gundersen Award for Junior Faculty was named in honor of 1968 Monmouth graduate Joan Rezner Gundersen. The award was funded by visiting distinguished professor Lewis Gould, a nationally known historian and author. Its purpose – to honor and recognize scholarship and research by Monmouth tenure-track faculty early in their careers – grew out of Gould’s conviction that young Monmouth professors needed to be recognized, and that such an award would encourage them to pursue excellence.

Like Gould, Gundersen is a noted historian, recognized as a pioneer in the women’s studies movement. An inductee into Monmouth’s prestigious Hall of Achievement, she taught history at St. Olaf (Minn.) College from 1975-90 and was one of the founding members in 1989 of California State University at San Marcos, for which she helped draft a mission statement and design the curriculum. She is the author of seven books and more than 20 articles on women’s history.