The first tenure-track person hired to teach a sociology course at IUPUI was Dr. Joseph T. Taylor. Dr. Taylor received his Ph.D. from IU-Bloomington in 1952. He joined the faculty in 1962 as Associate Professor of Sociology at what was then the IU extension campus in downtown Indianapolis. Dr. Taylor served as Professor of Sociology from 1965 to 1983 and was the first dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts (1967-1978). He leaves a proud legacy. Upon his retirement, the School established the annual Joseph T. Taylor Symposium to honor his commitment to dialogue and diversity by hosting informed discussions on issues of concern in urban America.
In 1968, the department proposed establishing a major. Edward Harris became the first chair of the Department of Sociology in 1969. In 1973, the department offered its first degree in sociology to Janice Klein, who later received the Outstanding Alumna Award from the School in 2015. In 2000, under the leadership of David Ford, the department received approval to offer a master’s degree. The MA program in Sociology Program began in the following year. Beginning in 2004, the department began offering a Ph.D. minor.
The department has had a longstanding specialty in medical sociology, an area that complements the campus strengths in health and medicine found in the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the Fairbanks School of Public Health.