About Me

I am originally from India that is Bharat. I was born in India in a rich farm family in a small princely State, with a prince and a capital city with a population of about 10,000. The prince had his own police, horses and elephants and it was fun to watch the two elephants everyday as we walked by. In school and especially in college, I liked everything I studied, so I kept studying one subject after another. While a graduate student, I participated as an interviewer in a study sponsored by the UNESCO in the 1950s. After getting graduate degrees (called postgraduate degrees in India) from Bombay School of Economics and Sociology and a law degree in India I enrolled as a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin (UW) Madison. I spent most of my time in Madison in non-academic activities such as watching TV, learning to sail, canoe, watching other people sail and capsize, and ushering in the theatre. I also worked on campus in the dorm kitchen managing to clean the 60-pound utensils. This was my first exposure to hard manual labor. In my search for an easier way to support myself until I got an assistantship, I learned to use all the IBM equipment needed in conducting research with data stored on punch cards (IBM 72, 82, 101, 402, etc.). The IBM computer in those days had a drum and had to be rewired every time the programs changed! I was hooked on those machines and wanted to learn Fortran II programming. I was not admitted to those classes, as I was a mere sociologist without a degree in mathematics or physics! I had to learn programming on my own reading the manuals in the computer center and managed to write a couple elementary but widely used programs, with help from other programmers. As part of a grant secured from NSF from the faculty members in the sociology department at UW, I also taught the use of these machines to undergraduate students during one summer. I was offered a job for two academic years at Western Michigan University (WMU) over the phone without an interview, though I requested an interview more than once. I accepted the temporary job at WMU as one of my professors at Wisconsin guessed, and told me that WMU probably used to be Kalamazoo College before it got a University status and it would be a really a great place for me to teach for a couple of years before I went back to India, as I had planned. In the meanwhile, India passed a bill that college professors had to teach in any one of the 14 different official languages, if the students so demanded. As I was unable to teach sociology in any language other than English, I decided to stay in the U.S. and teach sociology in English. The University sponsored me as a computer specialist! There were not many people knowledgeable about computers in 1963, even in this country. I also taught the basic computer literacy course in the 1980s in the Sociology Department for a few years. However, during the last 20 or so years, I have almost reached the stage of a computer illiterate. Recently I got a lap top through a WMU grant and I am trying to learn some things again. This web site, however, was created by a student.
I do not specialize in any particular area and consider myself a throwback, as I dabble in a lot of areas and have offered to teach courses in the department which no one else wants to teach. The Sociology Department at WMU has initiated many classes when they were not very common or popular such as child abuse and evaluation. I have participated in teaching both these courses. I have taught courses in Research Methods off and on for about 30 years. I have collaborated with The Evaluation Center once in a while for a period spanning two decades and have taught courses offered by different departments. I have conducted a large number of program evaluations. I am also active in the Applied Sociology Program in the department. I like my students; I assign them an almost cherubic status, think very highly of them and I am very loyal to them and all the students who work with me. Though I have not kept in touch with my past students, I would like to do so now through email, as it has made correspondence simpler and easier. So send me an email if you can, wherever you are. However at my current level of efficiency, (which is an improvement over the past performance of a delay of one month or more) please do not expect an answer in less than a week.
Subhash R. Sonnad


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