Faculty Spotlight Series – Professor Karen McCormack

Name: Karen McCormack
Position: Professor of Sociology
Years at Wheaton: 13
Hometown: I grew up in Limestone and Winslow, Maine
Education: BA in Sociology from Clark University, PhD in Sociology from Boston College

What one thing do you miss most from campus?
I miss seeing students and colleagues in the hallways, in the classroom, walking across the Dimple, everywhere! Those daily conversations were such an elemental part of being at Wheaton.

What are you currently watching on TV or reading?
I’m reading Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and Tana French’s The Witch Elm. I’d recommend both.

What is the best thing about being in quarantine?
My whole family is living under the same roof, which is something that is unlikely to have happened under different circumstances since my kids are in college. We all miss our communities at work and school, but it’s wonderful to have this time together.

What is your favorite thing about working at Wheaton?
The people would be number one. But since I mentioned that before, I love that at Wheaton you can make things happen. When you have an innovative idea, even if it goes against conventional wisdom or the way that things have always been done, there’s a sense of possibility.

What is your favorite event to attend at Wheaton College?
I always enjoy Opening Convocation and Commencement. During the rest of the semester, we all get caught up in the daily routine of classes and other commitments, but these moments remind us all of what we are really doing here and how/why it is transformative.

What is your favorite place on the Wheaton College Campus?
One of my favorites is the Dimple, especially on the first warm days of spring when everyone is out enjoying the sun. I also enjoy my office a lot–one full wall is a whiteboard so it’s perfect for brainstorming and thinking with students.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I really like being by the ocean and in the mountains and the woods, whether that’s reading a book by the ocean or mountain biking in the woods or mountains. These settings are so vast, so large, that they help me to keep everything in perspective.

Who are your favorite writers?
One of my favorite novels, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks seems particularly appropriate right now, though not a good escape from the pandemic. I like mystery novels a lot; a few of my favorite authors in that genre are Elizabeth George, Louise Penny, Jane Harper, and Jane Casey.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish that I had more musical talent. I spent much of my life before college playing music but haven’t made the time to continue since then. But I really miss it!