Melissa Latimer, an associate professor of sociology, has been appointed chair of the Division of Sociology and Anthropology at West Virginia University .

Latimer replaces Larry Nichols, professor of sociology, who served as interim division head for four years and helped introduce the criminology and investigations major at WVU .

�€?I look forward to working with Dr. Latimer as she leads a department with growing enrollment and research,�€? said Dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Mary Ellen Mazey. �€?She is an excellent teacher and researcher, and I am confident she will excel as an administrator.�€?

Latimer has a doctorate and master’s degree in sociology from the University of Kentucky , Lexington , and a bachelor’s degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.

Since arriving at WVU in 1994, she has pursued various research interests, including the major ways in which gender, race and class inequality are constructed and reconstructed through labor market processes and welfare policies.

Much of her published work involves understanding individual experiences with social insurance and social assistance programs and how these experiences vary by gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age and place.

In 1998, Latimer joined the University’s Interdisciplinary Research Task Force on Welfare Reform, which has conducted four surveys of West Virginia welfare recipients and had its work featured in a recent Washington Post article.

The group also published the 2004 book, �€?Welfare Reform in West Virginia,�€? selected as one of the top 12 finalists for the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year award in political science.

Latimer currently teaches a capstone course along with classes in race relations, social inequality, advanced sociological methods and research design.

As the new chair of sociology and anthropology, she will seek to build on the division’s academic offerings and ongoing faculty research projects.

�€?I feel honored and fortunate to be named chair,�€? Latimer said. �€?With the second largest number of student majors in the college and with such outstanding faculty, it’s a great time to be head of the division.�€?