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Melissa Latimer, Ph.D.

Associate Provost for Faculty Development and Culture & Professor - Sociology


Dr. Latimer served as chair of the department for five years (2006-2011). 

Much of her published work involves understanding individual experiences with social insurance and social assistance programs. Her main research objective has been to examine the connection between and the consequences of labor market inequality and welfare inequality. Her work involves understanding individual experiences with social insurance (i.e., unemployment insurance) and social assistance programs (i.e., Aid to Families with Dependent Children-AFDC/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families-TANF) and how these experiences vary by gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, and place (i.e., South versus non-Southern location, rural versus urban, Appalachian versus non-Appalachian location, etc.). This research agenda has been particularly significant given the historical gender and racial inequities within the welfare system, the severe economic disadvantage of rural areas and rural states (especially in the Appalachian region), and the massive changes in U.S. society set in motion by the 1996 welfare reform law (TANF).

Her recent research examines gender inequality and academia and organizational change within institutions of higher education. The WVU ADVANCE project is designed to improve our understanding of barriers to large-scale organizational change. The goal is to develop an institutional culture committed to diversity and equality in employee recruitment, development, retention, and promotion to leadership. The knowledge generated from this work can be translated into more effective, systemic approaches to change and can be applied in a variety of large-scale organizations in the academic, public, or private sector. The second area of research connected with the ADVANCE grant is her interest in understanding the disciplinary similarities/differences in academic training and as well as the implications of that training on the attitudes and behaviors of faculty members. Over the course of her career at WVU she has published 27 manuscripts, including one book, and acquired $3,997,627 in external funding.  She currently is a co-investigator on a $3.2 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE IT grant, and primary investigator on a $240,500 NSF Career-Life Balance grant.

Selected Publications

Melissa Latimer, Kasi Jackson, Lisa Dilks, Jim Nolan, and Leslie Tower. “Organizational Change and Gender Equity in Academia: Using Dialogical Change to Promote Positive Departmental Climates” forthcoming in Advances in Gender Research: Gender Transformation in the Academy, vol. 19, edited by Vasilikie Demos, Catherine White Berheide, and Marcia Texler Segal, Emerald Group Publishing.

Lisa Defrank-Cole, Melissa Latimer, Maryanne Reed, and Michele Wheatly “The Women’s Leadership Initiative: One University’s Attempt to Empower Females on Campus” Journal of Leadership Accountability and Ethics Vol. 11(1):50-64.

Melissa Latimer and L. Christopher Plein “Responding to Welfare Reform: Competing Perspectives of Social Service Delivery in an Economically Disadvantaged Rural State” Journal of Applied Social Science 7(1):3-23.

Beth Mitchneck, Jessi L. Smith, and Melissa Latimer.  “A Recipe for Change—Creating a More Inclusive Academy” Science 352(6282):148-149.

Leslie Tower and Melissa Latimer. “Cumulative Disadvantage: Effects of Early Career Childcare Issues on Faculty Research Travel” Affilia Published online before print January 12, 2016, doi:10.1177/0886109915622527

Lisa DeFrank-Cole, Melissa Latimer, Presha Neidemeyer, and Michele Wheatly.  “Understanding ‘Why’ One University’s Women’s Leadership Development Strategies are So Effective” Advancing Women in Leadership Journal” 36:26-35.

Courses Taught  

  • SOCA 235 Race Relations
  • SOCA 360 Women & Men in Society
  • SOCA 405 Introduction to Social Inequality
  • SOCA 493G Sex Lies and Statistics
  • SOCA 494 Adv. Sociological Methods
  • SOCA 510 Principles of Research Design