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Northern Kentucky University has its origins in the founding, in 1968, of Northern Kentucky State College (NKSC), which developed out of a northern Kentucky community college based in Covington. Two of the original three professors in each of the department’s disciplines came from the community college: Ralph Peterson in sociology and MaryCarol Hopkins in anthropology. With the creation of NKSC, philosopher Jerald Richards joined the institution. From the beginning, there were professors of sociology, anthropology, and philosophy, but the department as now constituted as the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy did not exist. Sociology and anthropology were linked with social work into a Department of Social Sciences. It was an interesting department title since none of the disciplines in the department counted toward the social sciences requirement in general education. Philosophy found itself grouped into a department with history and geography. By the late 1970s the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy as now constituted was formed.

When the only building on campus was Nunn Hall, all professors in the university each had their own desk, or one they shared with another professor, in one large room jokingly called the stockyards. With the construction in 1974 of what is now called Founders Hall, but was then the Science Building, the Department of Social Sciences formed a department with faculty offices on the second floor, plaza level. That was the point at which two long serving members of the department were hired: Robert Lilly in sociology and Sharlotte Neely in anthropology.

With two buildings on campus, the library was housed in the basement of Nunn Hall, faculty mailboxes were on the top floor of Nunn, and, except for food dispensed from machines, also located in the basement of Nunn, there was no place to eat on campus. In 1976 the department moved to Landrum Academic Building. It was after the move to Landrum that philosophy joined the department.

The list of chairs, beginning with the move from the stockyards to the old Science Building and the creation of the first departmental office, includes, in chronological order:

  1. Michael E. Endres, Ph.D., Sociology
  2. Lyle A. Gray, Ph.D., Sociology
  3. Daryl G. Poole, Ph.D., Sociology
  4. Christopher H. Boehm, Ph.D., Anthropology
  5. James F. Hopgood, Ph.D., Anthropology
  6. Jerald H. Richards, Ph.D., Philosophy
  7. Terry G. Pence, Ph.D., Philosophy
  8. David L. Dunevant, Music, Interim Chair
  9. Sharyn R. Jones, Ph.D., Anthropology
  10. Douglas W. Hume, Ph.D., Anthropology

The following faculty have retired and earned emeritus status:

  • Prince Brown, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology and African American Studies
  • LeRoy Gruner, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology
  • MaryCarol Hopkins, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology
  • James F. Hopgood, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology
  • Sharlotte Neely, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology
  • Jerald Richards, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy
  • Kristen Yount, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology

The following faculty have retired (in alphabetic order):

  • Barbara A. Arrighi, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology
  • Robert B. Kenney, Ph.D., Lecturer of Religous Studies
  • Robert C. Trundle, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy

The following faculty passed away before retirement:

  • Timothy D. Murphy, Ph.D., Lecturer of Anthropology
  • Barbara J. Thiel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology