The South Carolina Sociological Association (SCSA) has a colorful history that involves the largest and the smallest of South Carolina's institutions of higher learning, and the interests of both scholars and community activists. The origin of SCSA can be traced to 1976, when Emerson Smith, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, organized a steering committee to create SCSA. In 1986, Smith received an award at the 10th anniversary meeting of SCSA, recognizing him as one of the association's founding members. Another 'father' of SCSA was David Hatch, who had retired from USC-Columbia in 1974 to become a visiting professor at Benedict College. In the fall of 1977, the first annual meeting of SCSA was held, with Hatch as President.


Almost immediately after its inception, SCSA provided financial, professional, and intellectual support to the Carolina Undergraduate Sociology Symposium (CUSS), with the first symposium held at Francis Marion College on December 3, 1977 under the direction of Ingram Parmley. CUSS was later renamed the Carolina Undergraduate Social Science Symposium (CUSSS). Led by SCSA President Beth Bethel of Lander University, SCSA agreed to formally sponsor CUSSS for the first time in April 1999 at Presbyterian College, with Bob Freymeyer of Presbyterian and Barb Johnson of USC-Aiken serving as hosts.


Throughout its history, SCSA has striven to advance knowledge in the social and behavioral sciences for undergraduate students and professionals. For example, CUSSS has been an important venue for students to present and share their work in a professionalized forum that emphasizes intellectual and collegial exchange, and faculty from nearly 40 different institutions of higher learning have presented their scholarship at annual SCSA meetings. For a brief time in the late 1990s, SCSA sponsored an academic journal titled the Southeastern Sociological Review. Quarterly newsletters continue to keep faculty and university administrators informed of developments in sociology.


Besides scholarship, SCSA has been concerned with community affairs. In the mid-1980s, SCSA formed a legislative and public policies committee and entertained a proposal to establish a political action committee (PAC) within the framework of SCSA. The legislative and public policies committee faded and the PAC was never established, but it reflected the intent of SCSA at that time to offer sociological input into public policy. Speakers at SCSA meetings have included attorneys, business leaders, Congressional representatives, members of victims' rights organizations, philanthropists, police chiefs, and many other people who may not be sociologists, but who see the significance of sociology in what they do. No one knows what the future of SCSA holds, but if history provides a clue, the association will embrace newcomers to sociology and encourage veterans to learn more about the discipline, supply a forum for thoughtful and friendly exchange, and represent the interests of people found in the largest and smallest of organizations, in academia, and elsewhere.


Past Presidents of SCSA:

1977-1978 David Hatch (Benedict College)

1978-1979 Chris Sieverdes (Clemson University)

1979-1980 David Gover (Winthrop College)

1980-1981 Charles Tucker (University of South Carolina-Columbia)

1981-1982 Eugene Johnson (Furman University)

1982-1983 Emerson Smith (Metromark)

1983-1984 April von Frank (Coker College)

1984-1985 Ted Hunter (Presbyterian College)

1985-1986 Joe Mills (Winthrop College)

1986-1987 Dan Cover (Furman University)

1987-1988 Chris Sieverdes (Clemson University)

1988-1989 Chris Hope (College of Charleston)

1989-1990 Joel Thayer (Francis Marion College)

1990-1991 Robert Freymeyer (Presbyterian College)

1991-1992 Jerry Dockery (University of South Carolina-Columbia)

1992-1993 Donna Crossman (Greenville Technical College)

1993-1994 Samendra Singh (Lander University)

1994-1995 Leigh Walter Cellucci (Francis Marion University)

1995-1996 Susan Webb Shepherd (Coastal Carolina University)

1996-1997 Susan Webb Shepherd (Coastal Carolina University)

1997-1998 Jake Jacobs (Greenville Technical College)

1998-2000 Elizabeth Bethel (Lander University)

2000-2002 Betty Matheson (Northeastern Technical College)

2002-2004 William Breedlove (College of Charleston)

2004-2006 Joel Thayer (Francis Marion University)

2006-2008 Kathy Fritz (Newberry College)

2008-2010 Tracy Burkett (College of Charleston)

2010-2012 Vinetta Witt (Newberry College)

2012-2014 Mitchell Mackinem (Claflin University)

2014-2016 Daniel Harrison (Lander University)

2016-2018 Brenda Vander Mey (Clemson University)