September 5, 2019

Dear Members of our Campus Community,

I am saddened to share with you the news that Professor John Mohr passed away on Saturday, August 24, surrounded by family and loved ones. Professor Mohr had been diagnosed in 2017 with an aggressive form of ALS.

Broadly recognized as one of the leading cultural sociologists of his generation, Professor Mohr developed research and innovative methods that led to advances in disciplines across the social sciences and humanities. He is considered a pioneer in modeling cultural forms, and his work is widely cited. He held a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UC Irvine, and completed both a master’s and PhD in sociology at Yale University.

Professor Mohr joined our Department of Sociology in 1991, and later held affiliated professorships in our Department of Communication and Technology Management Program. He served in several important leadership roles, including Associate Dean of our Graduate Division from 2000-2004; Associate Director of our Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research from 2008-2012; and Director of our Social Science Survey Research Center from 2008-2013. Not long after joining our campus, he emerged as one of the key architects and leaders of the University of California’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the social and physical sciences.

In his capacity as Associate Dean, he developed innovative ways to increase the diversity of our graduate student population by establishing an affiliation between our campus and the National Science Foundation’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP). The AGEP program sought to increase the number of Black, Latinx, and Native American students earning PhDs and entering the professoriate. He served for ten years as Chair of the UC systemwide AGEP steering committee, helping to secure a $22-million NSF grant. While serving on the NSF’s national AGEP steering committee, Professor Mohr helped to develop a program he called UC-DIGSSS (University of California Diversity Initiative for Graduate Study in the Social Sciences). The NSF institutionalized and expanded this approach, creating a program that now provides funding to 20 other universities across the country.

Professor Mohr focused on institutional transformation throughout his career, and served as a mentor to new faculty from underrepresented communities. In recognition of his lifelong commitment to diversity, the American Sociological Association’s Culture Section created a fellowship in Professor Mohr’s honor to provide funding for students of color to attend annual ASA meetings.

He served as past Chair of the ASA’s Culture and Theory sections, and was Co-Chair of the Historical Sociology Section up until his passing. He was also a member of the prestigious Sociological Research Association. His service on a national, UC-systemwide, and campuswide level was tremendous, participating on countless advisory, nomination, steering, and search committees. He also served on the editorial boards of Sociological TheoryAmerican Journal of Cultural SociologyPoetics, and Theory and Society.

In the classroom, Professor Mohr was a creative and engaged instructor, as well as an inspirational mentor to undergraduate, honors, and graduate students in sociology and other disciplines. In 2018, he was awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award from UC Santa Barbara’s Academic Senate.

A beloved colleague, scholar, teacher, and mentor, John will be greatly missed by all of us. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Lael, his family, and his many friends. Our campus flag will be lowered in his memory on Wednesday, September 18.


Henry T. Yang