Glenn V. Fuguitt, Ph.D.
Professor of Community & Environmental Sociology and Sociology, Emeritus
Emeritus, Center for Demography & Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
For nearly a half-century, Glenn Fuguitt defined the subfield of rural demography. His work on rural and small town America, beginning in the 1950s, has served as the benchmark for rural scholars concerned about chronic rural population decline, rural-to-urban migration, and dying small towns. In the 1970s, he and his long-time friend and U.S. Department of Agriculture collaborator Calvin Beale first identified the “rural population turnaround,” which marked the reversal of longstanding patterns of population concentration in the nation’s cities and suburbs. For the first time in the 1970s, rural areas grew at the expense of urban areas as jobs decentralized, energy development boomed, and amenity-motivated migration took hold, especially among the nation’s retirement-age population. Glenn contributed a chapter in the late 1970s on rural population change for the influential report prepared by the U.S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. Glenn also is well-known for his work in the 1970s and 1980s on size-of-place residential preferences, which frequently involved his students.
Glenn’s first peer-reviewed publication appeared in Rural Sociology in 1958 (“Urban Influence and the Extent of Part-Time Farming in a Rural Area”). His most-recent refereed paper – with Beale – was published in Rural Sociology in 2011 on “Migration of Retirement-Age Blacks to Nonmetropolitan Areas in the 1990s”. Glenn’s remarkable career includes publications covering six decades. And he is still going strong – collaborating with his colleagues in a USDA-sponsored research network on “Population Dynamics and Change: Aging, Ethnicity and Land Use Change in Rural Communities.” His participation resulted in a chapter (“Comparisons Across Three Race/Ethnic Groups in Rural Retirement Counties”) in an edited volume published by Springer in early 2013 (Rural Aging in 21st Century America, by Glasgow and Berry).
Glenn was born in Clearwater, Florida in 1928, where he spent much of his formative years. His father was a school superintendent. His early professional interests lay in chemistry, which he cultivated at the University of Florida. His segue into the social sciences began with the arrival of T. Lynn Smith, who joined the Florida faculty in Glenn’s senior year and was perhaps the most distinguished rural sociologist of his generation. After receiving is B.S. in 1950, Glenn completed his M.A. in Sociology under Smith’s direction. Glenn’s interest in doing practical demographic work – research that mattered – undoubtedly influenced his decision to matriculate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his doctoral studies, where he worked with professor Doug Marshall, a demographer whose experiment station appointment involved statistical demographic studies of population and economic change in Wisconsin.
After receiving his PhD in Sociology in 1956, Glenn stayed on as an assistant professor in the Department of Rural Sociology in the College of Agriculture. He moved rapidly through the ranks, achieving the rank of professor in 1965. Glenn served two stints as department head (1968-70 and 1978-81) and was co-director of Wisconsin’s Applied Population Laboratory, which many demographers regard as the premier applied demography center in the United States. Glenn “retired” with emeritus status in 1993 after nearly 40 years of university service.
Glenn is a distinguished rural sociologist and demographer. He served as the Rural Sociological Society’s president (1970-71) and edited the society’s flagship journal Rural Sociology (1965-67). He also served as president of the International Rural Sociology Association (1976-1980). His friends and colleagues in rural sociology have recognized him for his many scholarly contributions and service – as “Distinguished Rural Sociologist” (RSS, 1987), “Excellence in Research” (RSS, 1989), and “Outstanding Scholarship in Rural Demography” (RSS 2002).
Glenn has also been professionally active in the Population Association of America, regularly attending the annual meetings and publishing in Demography. His papers reflect the scope of his rural research over a long and distinguished career: “Trends in Unincorporated Places, 1950-60” (1965); “Small Town Growth in the United States: An Analysis by Size Class and by Place”(1966); “Some Population Characteristics of Villages Differentiated by Size, Location, and Growth” (1972); “Residential Preferences and Population Distribution” (1975); “Annexation as a Factor in the Growth of U.S. Cities, 1950-1960 and 1960-1970” (1978); “Population Trends of Nonmetropolitan Cities and Villages in Subregions of the United States” (1978); “Residential Preferences, Community Satisfaction, and the Intention to Move” (1979); “The Transition to Nonmetropolitan Population Deconcentration” (1982); “Monitoring the Metropolitization Process” (1988); “Residential Preferences and Population Redistribution: 1972-1988” (1990); and “Temporal and Spatial Variation in Age-Specific Net Migration in the United States” (2005).
To his many students, Glenn was a devoted and loyal mentor who generously shared his time, his expertise and enthusiasm for rural social science and demography, and co-authorship. His role as mentor extended well beyond day-to-day research activities; indeed, Glenn’s genuine concern for the long term professional development and personal well-being of his students made a lasting impression. He was a role model that many of us have tried to emulate with our own students – hard work, demanding standards, shared credit, and loyalty.
Glenn and his wife Martha of 62 years have two children (Gayle and Graham) along with 3 grandsons. Glenn and Martha still spend their summers in Madison but winters in Florida. They remain inseparable at professional meetings and conferences, and both still keep in regular contact with many former students and colleagues. Those who know Glenn best cannot help but admire his calm and even-handed demeanor, his dedication to his students and their success, and his inspirational devotion to his chosen field.