Kathe earned her undergraduate double majors in Comparative Religions and Sociology (with honors) at the University of Washington in 1981. She took the summer off from college and went directly to a Ph.D. program at Drew University, earning her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Religion and Society. She came to Valdosta State in 1987, to join her husband, who already was on the faculty.
New to teaching, she had some rough moments as she tried to develop her own teaching style. Teaching came easier, though, than publishing did. Getting published was hard; it wasn’t until she found a mentor during her 1992 NEH Summer Seminar on Social Problems: The Constructionist Stance that she learned some of the “tricks” about getting published. Since then, she has written three books, over thirty research articles and book chapters, and co-edited several syllabi collections with some of her VSU sociology colleagues for the American Sociological Association.
Since 1989, she has been active in the scholarship of teaching and learning activities in sociology and in particular, in the Midwest Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. In 2009, she applied to become editor of the American Sociological Association’s sole pedagogical journal, Teaching Sociology, and she started as editor in January 2010. Her tenure ended in December 2014.
In 2011 she received the VSU College of Arts and Sciences’ Excellence in Teaching award and also became the winner of VSU’s Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2012, she received the Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in the University System of Georgia. In 2014, she received the American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. This is the ASA’s highest pedagogical award. In 2015, she received the American Sociological Association’s Section on Teaching and Learning’s Hans O. Mauksch award for distinguished teaching. In 2016, she will be awarded the Georgia Sociological Association’s Sociologist of the Year award.
In 2013, Valdosta State University administrators asked her to lead The IDEA Center, a teaching and learning center for faculty and staff. Along with a small cohort of other faculty, she created teaching circles, writing groups, workshops, and groups for new faculty. After three years, she is stepping down as the Scholar in Residence at The IDEA Center and is anxious to see it continue to grow and become institutionalized by its next leader.
Starting a writing project is very difficult for her; while she has tried to write every day, that just doesn’t fit her teaching schedule and her life, though every January 1, she makes a resolution to try it again! In 2013, the IDEA Center writing groups helped her to focus and commit to writing three times a week. This helped – she finished her 3rd book in 2015! But once she can clear a block of time, find the right music, and can get into the flow of writing, something almost magical happens!