Hugh Gorman Named Chair of Social Sciences

By Mark Wilcox | Published

Bruce Seely, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Technological University, has announced that Hugh Gorman will be the next chair of the Department of Social Sciences.

Gorman, who has been on the Social Sciences faculty since 1996, will begin his new duties July 1. He succeeds Patrick Martin, who completes his term as chair and will retire June 30.

Gorman earned his PhD in history and policy from Carnegie-Mellon University. He joined the Michigan Tech faculty in 1996 and was promoted to professor in 2012.

Seely says Gorman has played an integral role in the department’s master’s and doctoral programs in environmental policy. “Hugh is a well-respected scholar in the intertwined communities of history of technology and environmental history,” Seely explains.

Gorman has authored books on the regulation of the petroleum industry and on the nitrogen cycle and sustainability. In 2011 he received a Fulbright Fellowship to spend six months in Panama.

“Hugh is perfectly positioned to serve as the next chair of Social Sciences,” says Seely, “by the way that his work bridges the two primary research focal points of the department — industrial history and heritage and environmental policy.”

Gorman says one of his goals will be to nurture the department’s existing capacity to undertake world-class interdisciplinary research. “Most people are aware of the department’s important contributions to the University’s general education program,” he says. “But our faculty is also producing policy-related knowledge that guides technological development in a direction that encourages uses of the built and natural environment that are sustainable, economically viable and just.”

Gorman says it would be difficult to find a group of social scientists — anthropologists, sociologists, policy scientists, cultural geographers and historians of technology and the environment — as well positioned to undertake such research as those here at Michigan Tech.

Martin, current chair of the department, began his term in 2008 and has since presided over a transition marked by the hiring of at least nine new faculty.

“Pat has been a superb and conscientious department chair, helping strengthen Social Sciences’ positions in both environmental policy and industrial history and heritage,” Seely says. “ He has been especially successful in securing external funding and gifts to support renovation and development of research infrastructure.”

Gorman shared Seely’s praise for his predecessor. “Our outgoing chair deserves a lot of the credit for helping to assemble this impressive group of faculty members. The previous six years have been pivotal in terms of guiding the department through an unusually large demographic shift — that is, a wave of retirements involving the faculty who originally established the department’s reputation for interdisciplinary scholarship and degree programs.”


Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.