Joyce Rothschild, professor in the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of professor emerita by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive an emeritus certificate from the university.

A member of the university community for 26 years, Rothschild’s scholarship focuses on non-hierarchical and cooperative organizations at the community level, the development of “collectivist-democratic” organization theory, and managerial retaliation against whistleblowers. She is widely recognized as an influential and pioneering scholar for her work, which identifies decentralized alternatives to hierarchy and bureaucracy and which focuses on the treatment of whistle blowers.

After joining Virginia Tech as sociology professor in 1991, Rothschild transferred to SPIA as a founding faculty member when the school was created in 2003 in order to pursue a more international perspective. She was instrumental in creating the Masters of Public and International Affairs program; Planning, Governance and Globalization Ph.D. program; and promotion and tenure guidelines. More recently, she helped establish the new degree program in Nonprofit and Non-Governmental Organizational Management.

Rothschild received several professional honors and awards, including the university’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2016 and the C. Wright Mills Award for her book, The Cooperative Workplace: Potentials and Dilemmas of Organizational Democracy and Participation (with J. Allen Whitt), which was recognized as the “most significant book in the sociological profession” in 1987. She is the author or co-author of more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and reviews, and served as editor of seven volumes.

In the classroom, Rothschild won high praise from students as a “phenomenal,” “engaging,” and “irreplaceable” lecturer and mentor. She primarily taught graduate-level courses on democracy, on democratic governance of the economy, nonprofit organizations and civil society, and on power and policy in the United States. Over the years, she has been selected by dozens of students to serve on their master's degree and doctoral committees – and continues to serve as mentor and chair to a number of Ph.D. students. 

Rothschild received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Since her retirement this fall from Virginia Tech, Rothschild has moved to Richmond to continue her research and writing about cooperative organizations and why they have renewed relevance in a digital era.

“People are increasingly seeking local employment options in organizations that can offer work that is more engaging, better compensated, creativity-inspiring, done in groups, and less hierarchal and rule-bound. This is where the cooperative form of organization can excel,” she said.

“We are grateful to Dr. Rothschild for her legacy of dedicated and generous service to our students and significant leadership in her field,” said Anne Khademian, director of SPIA. “Her contributions as a social science scholar enhanced the national and international visibility of our school and are still deeply relevant today.”