Jon H. Rieger (1936-2020)
Dr. Jon H. Rieger joined the Department of Sociology in 1971 after earning his PhD in sociology Michigan State University. Throughout his career at UofL, he taught courses in rural sociology, sociology of music, social change, and graduate-level research methods - and was a published author and mentor to numerous undergraduate and graduate students. However, one of his most notable accomplishments was pioneering the field of visual sociology. His photographic history of social change in Ontonagon County, Michigan that began in 1960 is possibly the longest, continuous visual study in the world. He was a founding member of the International Visual Sociology Association, and his trailblazing articles offered a new approach to studying sociology.
Although he entered phased retirement in 2017, Dr. Rieger continued to teach, mentor, and serve as department historian until his full retirement in the summer of 2020 - less than a month before he died. While Dr. Rieger's absence is notable, he will be remembered as one of the pillars of the department, and his endowments, established several years ago, provide funding for graduate students' professional development and thesis/dissertation research, and funding for an annual speaker series, bringing a prominent sociologist to campus to make a presentation and visit with our faculty and graduate students. (For more information about the Jon H. Speaker Series, visit here.)
On November 13, 2021, a Fall Festival was held to celebrate Dr. Rieger's life and his love of food, music, dance, and the arts. Together, family and friends of Jon planted a tree in Louisville's Central Park then enjoyed a cookout at Cherokee Park before a memorial show at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. (The last photo below shows but one of the groups performing at the event.)