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Marilyn Fernandez Retires

Dedication to Dr. Marilyn Fernandez, reprinted from the Silicon Valley Notebook 

It is with great collegial affection and gratitude that the Department of Sociology dedicates the latest issue of the research annual Silicon Valley Notebook to Professor Marilyn Fernandez.  Dr. Fernandez, who will retire at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 contract year, has been a major contributor to the Department of Sociology throughout her years and Santa Clara.  Among Dr. Fernandez’s many other contributions, she was singularly responsible for launching Silicon Valley Notebook and has guided its development ever since.  It is therefore quite fitting that this volume of Silicon Valley Notebook should be dedicated to Dr. Fernandez.  

To inspire and edit a research journal devoted to publishing work of students in a discipline and at a university (which is similar to what Emile Durkheim intended when he first established L’Année Sociologue), a person must have many qualities including commitment to students, excellent command of written language, and facility in helping people articulate a thesis, marshal and assess evidence, and hone logical arguments.  It also helps to be an outstanding researcher who can serve as a good role model. Dr. Fernandez is a first-rate researcher who has helped shaped the current sociological understanding of a number of important empirical topics, including domestic violence and social mobility in the 21st century.  And as a methodologist, her collaborative work (along with Dr. Stephen Fugita) yielded what is certainly one of the most careful longitudinal research studies to explore complex relationships between behavioral and attitudinal factors over a long course of time.  Her other methodological contributions include (along with Dr. Charles Powers) development of a new methodological approach for quantifying and measuring meso-level features of organizational structure and culture.

As a teacher, mentor, and an editor, as well as in her own research, Dr. Fernandez has demonstrated extraordinary methodological versatility.  She has, furthermore, consistently stressed the necessity of keeping theoretical premises at the center of the research design process, the necessity of selecting methodological strategies appropriate to the topic being studied, and the desirability of employing multi-method research design (informed by a combination of quantitative, qualitative, and historical inquiry) whenever it is practical to do so.  All these qualities of mind and intellectual approach have helped to make Dr. Fernandez an excellent role model for Santa Clara students for almost three decades, with her serving as editor or associate editor of Silicon Valley Notebook for the majority of those years.

Marilyn Fernandez has been more than a researcher at Santa Clara.  She has also been a deliberative and effective contributor within the department and on campus, serving three different tours of duty in the demanding job of department chair.  Arguably her most important new initiative in her years as chair, and certainly the initiative which Professor Fernandez cared about most, was launching Silicon Valley Notebook as a vehicle of professional socialization, to provide many students with a meaningful opportunity to benefit from steady guidance while honing their research and writing skills, and to encourage students to engage in meaningful professional work informing sociological understanding of important topics. 

Many of us who have worked with Dr. Fernandez feel we are better people as well as more fully prepared as professionals as a result.  We ask that, whether or not you have worked on a previous issue of Silicon Valley Notebook, you take this moment to think about Dr. Fernandez and consider sending her any personal comments you might wish to share (mfernandez@scu.edu). 

Fernandez remains dear to the hearts of many who have been have been associated with the department since her arrival at Santa Clara University in 1992.  The department is profoundly grateful for all of her many contributions and is profoundly lucky to count her as a member and a colleague. And we all know we can look forward to more informative research and thoughtful analyses in the future, as Dr. Fernandez turns her attention to her current project; extending our understanding of the sociological processes which unfold as people make major life-stage transitions.