Sociology Department Faculty





Stephen Ainlay

18th President of Union College on July 1, 2006/Professor of Sociology

Ph.D., Rutgers University

Before joining Union, President Ainlay spent 23 years at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.  At Holy Cross, he was a Professor of Sociology and held a number of positions in the administration, including the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. His research projects have focused on investigations of blindness, aging, spirituality and various aspects of Mennonite life, all aimed at better understanding the ways in which people find meaning in their lives. His books include Day Brought Back My Night: Aging and Vision LossMennonite Entrepreneurs (co-authored with Calvin Redekop and Robert Siemans); The Dilemma of Difference: A Multidisciplinary View of Stigma (co-edited with Gaylene Becker and Lerita Coleman); and Making Sense of Modern Times: Peter L. Berger and the Vision of Interpretive Sociology (co-edited with James Davison Hunter). He has published numerous articles related to his research areas, and he is a frequent presenter at conferences of scholars and academic administrators.


Deidre Hill Butler

Associate Professor of Sociology

Ph.D. Clark University

(518) 388-8070
Lippman 206

Professor Hill Butler’s research areas encompass the sociology of African American Culture and African American women’s representations in society.  Her current focus is the role of African American women in contemporary stepfamilies.  She has published articles in Afro-Americans in New York Life and History: An Interdisciplinary Journal and The Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering.  She is a lifetime member of the Association of Black Women Historians and contributed an article to the organization’s 2008 text, Emerging Voices and Paradigms. She also guest-edited an Africana Mothering-themed edition of The Journal of Pan African Studies.

Professor Hill-Butler is the mentor for Union POSSE 5. POSSE recruits student leaders from urban high schools who have extraordinary academic and leadership backgrounds. At Union, Posse students play key roles in building a rich campus community.

Professor Hill Butler incorporates local service learning experiences into her upper-level courses and teaches courses on comparative American family structures, the intersections of race, class, and gender, and African American feminist practice.

Professor Hill-Butler was awarded the 2011 Leadership Council on Inclusion Award (LCI) for her dedication to the Union College mission and her work on diversity and inclusion with students, faculty, staff and administrators. LCI enhances and promotes diversity and multicultural programs at educational institutions and agencies in New York’s Capital Region.  Nominated by President Stephen C. Ainlay and supported by the LCI council Hill-Butler was recognized for her ongoing dedication to students and administrative tasks which continue to enhance inclusion efforts on Union’s campus.


David A. Cotter

Professor of Sociology

Ph.D. University of Maryland

(518) 388-6457
Lippman 225

Professor David Cotter’s research focuses on stratification and inequality, particularly rural poverty, and work-related gender inequality. Some of his recent research in gender inequality which looks at variations in occupational segregation and earnings inequality across labor markets has been funded via grants from the National Science Foundation. The results of this research have been published in major journals including The American Sociological Review, The American Journal of Sociology, Social Science Research, Rural Sociology, and Work and Occupations. He is currently working on a book manuscript on poverty and inequality in rural labor markets. Dr. Cotter has also conducted research on service learning as a pedagogical tool, and helped to develop a set of syllabi and instructional materials for the American Sociological Association. Professor Cotter teaches courses on work and occupations, community, religion, and research methods.


Melinda A. Goldner

Chair of the Sociology Department & Professor of Sociology

Ph.D. Ohio State University

(518) 388-6425/6292
Lippman 217

Professor Goldner studies a range of health care issues and health social movements, such as online health searching and the complementary and alternative medicine movement. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, including Sociology of Health & Illness, Information, Communication and Society, Research in the Sociology of Health Care and Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. She is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal. She teaches courses on medical sociology, public health, global health, social movements, sociological theory and gender.


Ilene M. Kaplan

Joseph C. Driscoll Professor of Sociology & Marine Policy

Ph.D. Princeton University

(518) 388-6230
Lippman 214

Professor Ilene Kaplan teaches courses on family life, domestic violence, community, environmental policy, and marine policy. In addition to her position at Union, she holds a guest investigator research appointment at the Marine Policy Center of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Past research appointments include both the Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Centers of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and the Economics of the Sea Program at the University of Barcelona, Spain. Her most recent work has been a longitudinal study on marine policy, co-management and socio-economic trends in the fishing communities of New England. Professor Kaplan has worked with biologists examining the ecology and socio-economics of the New England conch fishery. She helped develop the Marine Studies Term Abroad, the first team taught interdisciplinary term abroad at Union College. Her work has appeared in Marine Policy, the leading journal in marine studies, and she has presented her findings at international and national conferences such as the World Fish Congress in Brisbane, Australia. Research grants have included funding from the Department of Marine Fisheries, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She has also developed an extensive internship program for students at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and various human service agencies in the New York Capital District.


Timothy P. Stablein

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Ph.D. University of Connecticut

(518) 388-6712
Lippman 216

Professor Timothy Stablein joined the Sociology Department at Union College in the fall of 2013. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in 2009. Prior to coming to Union, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Skidmore College (2009) and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at  Dartmouth College (2010-2013) at the Institute for Security Technology, and Society (ISTS). His areas of specialization include adolescence, deviance, health, and research methods. At Union College, he teaches courses in social deviance, juvenile delinquency, and research methods.


Denise Frandino

Lecture of Sociology

M.S.W. University of Illinois

(518) 388-7031
Lippman 205

Denise Frandino, lecturer, has taught at Castleton University, Skidmore College, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Washington County and the University at Albany. Her social work experience includes Granville Central Schools, the Warren and Washington Association for Mental Health, and the McKinley Developmental School. She is a licensed clinical social worker who has taught courses on human behavior in the social environment, discrimination in American society and family violence.

Skip to toolbar