The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

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Vicky Crane, Department of Sociology

Trent Tetzlaff, Staff Writer

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Trent Tetzlaff: What made you want to become a professor in sociology, or what got you into the field?
Vicky Crane: I never did intend to become a professor of sociology. I became a non-traditional student at UWEC when I was a single mother of three elementary school daughters, working full-time, and on welfare. Where I worked I could get an increase in pay with college credits. After a few semesters of taking night classes I applied to become degree-seeking student. For several years, I juggled attending school full-time and working part-time during the summer and fall semesters, working full-time and attending school part-time during spring semesters. I remarried during my final year at UWEC. My husband and I had a blended family with six children in a six-year age range. As an undergraduate here I changed my degree three times because I never wanted to teach. I finally graduated with a psych major and family studies minor. I then went on to grad school for a master’s degree in Family Social Science, where I taught undergraduate family classes. I started teaching at UWEC when our children were adolescents. It was not what I ever intended, but financial realities required me to do something and teaching seemed the best option. Teaching is what happened when I was trying to survive early-middle adulthood. I have loved teaching, and I am passionate about sociology and family studies. The discipline has never become boring.

TT: This is your last semester as a professor here, what will you miss most about UW-Eau Claire and the city?
VC: I will miss students, I enjoy young people. They inspire me, challenge me and teach me. They give me faith in the future, I sincerely believe our world will become a better place when the college students I’ve taught take over the reigns of society from my generation.

TT: Over your years of travel around the country and world as a professor, what did you find most interesting?
VC: My husband and I led humanitarian and educational expeditions to Latin America for three decades. Our first trip was to visit a relative that was a Maryknoll priest in Bolivia for 52 years. We visited an orphanage that had many infants and children with only a few Sisters to take care of them. I had studied failure-to-thrive and environmental deprivation, but I had never experienced it. The infants in their cribs were fed, clothed and sheltered but indicated absolutely no interest or reaction when we entered. Flat affect. I went to the crib of one little girl about eight months old. She looked at me with these big dark eyes and I had the sense she was grieving, that they were all grieving. I picked her up and she braced against me, pulling away. I did what mothers do. Bounce, pat, rock, sing … Eventually she put her little head in the shallow of my shoulder and snuggled in. I carried her around for a couple of hours. When it was time to go I walked back to her crib to set her down and she clung to me. I thought, “Oh, my god, what I have I done?” I was going to set her down and walk away. Did I pick her up for her? Or for me? Had I considered any consequences? That was the beginning of 30 years of applied sociology.

TT: What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you in one of your classes over your years here?
VC: I’ve had many weird things happen to me. This was after class rather than in class. In one Sociology 164 class, students became emotionally distraught with one another over the issue of child discipline.

TT: What is your favorite thing to do when in Eau Claire?
VC: I have two favorite things to do in Eau Claire. One is to go to the bookstore, sometimes for hours. The other is to go to anything my youngest grandchild is involved in at Immaculate Conception Elementary School. My favorite activity at UWEC each year is to attend Cabaret. It is phenomenal.

TT: What do you look forward to in your years ahead after you retire?
VC: Traveling, reading, writing, and genealogy. We’re going to Iran this fall. And I’ve promised our kids I’ll come and stay with the grandkids, 11 of them, so they and their spouses can get more time away together.

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The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
Meet your professor: