Tribute to Chris Prendergast at the
Joint Illinois Sociological Association and
Wisconsin Sociological Association Meetings
October 24, 2008
Chris Prendergast describes himself as an unmotivated student before taking Social
Problems at a small Catholic college in Brooklyn, New York in 1965. Principles of
Sociology was even better, and a semester later he transferred to Brooklyn College,
C.U.N.Y. There he encountered sociological theory, Continental philosophy, the New
Left, Joyce, Fellini, and Coltrane--and a set of intellectual concerns that still
echo in his courses. After a brief and frustrating career in public housing, Dr. Prendergast
entered the graduate program in social theory at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale,
where he obtained his M.A in 1974 and Ph.D. in 1979. After six years at the University
of Evansville, he came to Illinois Wesleyan in 1985, where he was responsible for
courses in the History of Social Thought, Social Organization, Community and Urban
Society, and American Social Institutions Today until his retirement in 2010. Dr.
Prendergast served as Chair of the department from 1995-2002. In 2008, Dr. Prendergast
was awarded recognition and gratitude for all his contributions to the Illinois Sociological
Association (ISA), including serving as the Association's President. Dr. Prendergast
has also served as President of the Midwest Sociology Society and continues active
engagement in both organizations.
Tribute to Chris Prendergast by Jim Sikora
Upon retirement from IWU
I had the good fortune as chair to hire Chris in 1985 and never regretted that decision.
As a sociologist, colleague, and friend, he represents the very best. Chris, a superior
intellectual and gifted scholar, commands high respect from colleagues and students
across the campus (IWU's annual Outstanding Teacher Award in 2005) and the discipline.
His extraordinary range of knowledge spills over into many disciplines and sciences;
if ever I've met a contemporary renaissance individual, Chris is it. A prolific writer
and gifted classroom teacher, somehow he always found time to engage and lead sociological
associations, with his indefatigable work ethic, most recently the MSS, as a board
and committee member, and as its president in 2003-04. Over the last two decades,
he always found time to selflessly share himself and his talents with the Illinois
Sociological Association, including President in 1991-92.