In memoriam: Alan E. Bayer, professor emeritus of sociology
June 6, 2014
Alan E. Bayer, professor emeritus of sociology at Virginia Tech and founding director of the university's Center for Survey Research, died Friday, May 30. He was 75.
A member of the Virginia Tech community from 1982 until he retired with emeritus status in 2006, Bayer made significant research contributions in the sociology of education. He published five books and more than 125 articles, chapters, and technical reports. He also served as head of the Department of Sociology for seven years.
“Alan Bayer is fondly remembered,” said Ted Fuller, professor of sociology. “He was best known as a family sociologist, but later he turned his attention to the sociology of higher education.”
“He was a champion for inclusion in higher education,” said Toni Calasanti, professor of sociology, “and it was through his efforts that the start of gender equity within our department was reached. He truly walked the walk.”
Bayer hired the first two women in the department, Calasanti and Carol Bailey, facilitating their work and eventual tenure. “He really made us feel welcome,” said Calasanti. “He also had a marvelous sense of humor and loved to laugh with his friends and colleagues.”
From 1973 to 1980, Bayer was a professor of sociology at Florida State University, also serving as chair of the department and research center director.
During his career, Bayer had been a consultant to numerous federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
In addition, Bayer had served as full-time researcher at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., at the American Institutes for Research Council on Education in Washington, D.C., and at the Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development in Omaha, Nebraska.
Bayer received his bachelor’s degree in educational psychology from Penn State University, and his master's degree and Ph.D. in sociology from Florida State University. In 1994, both the College of Education at Penn State and the College of Social Sciences at Florida State awarded him with the designation as the Alumnus of the Year.
Bayer is survived by his wife Arlene Stevenson-Bayer, and his two daughters, Lisa Littlefield ’91 and Karen Dion ’87, both Virginia Tech graduates.
Two services will be held for Bayer, who moved from Blacksburg to South Carolina about five years ago. The first will be held at 11 a.m. June 14, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte (234 N. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, North Carolina). The local celebration of life will be held at 4 p.m. on June 17, at the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Gladewood Drive in Blacksburg.