Monday, May 20, 2024
Steve Wieting
Steve Wieting as we remember him

Long-time Sociology Professor Stephen G. Wieting, age 83, passed away on July 22, 2023. Steve began his career in the Sociology Department at the University of Iowa in 1971 after receiving his PhD from the University of Minnesota. He officially retired in 2008 but continued to come into the office for more than a decade, always fashionably clad in an ironed shirt, tie, and dress pants. He was a great man – kind, articulate, intelligent, and introspective.

Wieting was an expert in the Sociology of Sport and Sociology of the Family, teaching courses in those areas as well as Research Methods. Within the sports world, Steve was particularly interested in marathon runners from Kenya, curling players from Canada, and cyclists from all nations who participated in the Tour de France. He also developed an expertise in Icelandic culture, traveling to Iceland several times to better understand the people and society. He was an exceptional mentor to both undergrads and graduate students, maintaining relationships with many for several decades. In honor of his commitment to students, the Stephen G. Wieting Award was established for the best theory paper submitted to the annual Iowa Sociological Association conference.

Steve’s door was (literally) always open, as he believed that an important part of being in an academic department was to develop a sense of community among its members. At lunchtime, he would pull out his bike and invite staff and faculty to join him in a lunchtime ride out to Coralville. If athletics wasn’t your thing, he would suggest a Budweiser after work at George’s Buffet. Steve had a way of combining work and leisure in a fun and effortless way – long before work-life balance had become a catchphrase. 

Developing a community for undergraduates was also important to Steve. He ran the undergraduate Sociology Club for many years, inviting students to his home for end-of-the year cookouts as well as accompanying them to the annual Iowa Sociological Association conference. Maintaining connections was also one of Steve’s hallmarks. After graduation, Steve would send his students handwritten letters, keeping them apprised of happenings in the department, as well as the sports scene in Iowa City. 

One of Steve’s most popular courses was a year-long course in which students would learn to conduct their own research. One of his students from this class remarked “The fact that Professor Wieting challenges his class is something that sets his class apart from others… Also, he allows his students the opportunity to come into talk to him at any time, and this is a huge advantage. It put me in a situation personally where I am no longer taking a class, but rather acquiring knowledge because he has so much of it.” 

Steve’s graduate students also greatly admired him. Joel Kallich, who studied with Steve in the 1970s, remarked “Steve had more integrity, intelligence, and kindness than most people, and made me and the world a better place. He was a unicorn among a clutch of chickens. He was the best professor I ever had and changed my life.”

In his 70s, Steve did not slow down. In 2015, at the age of 75, Steve published a book titled, The Sociology of Hypocrisy: an Analysis of Sport and Religion. His last major piece of research, the book encompassed his interests in sport, religion, and morality. And in his late 70s, Steve became an active member of the Hawkeye Community Rowing Club, showing up for daily practice on the Iowa River at 6 a.m.

Steve was an invaluable colleague and close friend of many students, staff, and faculty. He will be greatly missed.