Joseph R. DeMartini Excellence in Teaching Award: A Legacy of Commitment to Education and Graduate Student Support

John and Joe are talking and looking away from the photo. They are outdoors.
Professors John Wardell (left) and Joe DeMartini at the annual department picnic.

The Joseph R. DeMartini Excellence in Teaching Award provides support to graduate students in the Sociology department who share the late DeMartini’s commitment to teaching excellence. The department gives the prestigious award to students who demonstrate excellence through their teaching portfolio and provides funding for students to attend professional conferences to learn and share knowledge about teaching strategies.

The award was established in memory of Joe R. DeMartini, who was a Sociology faculty member at WSU from 1978 to 1993. DeMartini graduated from the University of Santa Clara in 1964 with a BA in sociology and received his MA and PhD in sociology from the University of Illinois.

Margaret DeMartini, Joe’s spouse, continues to reside in Pullman. We asked Margaret about Joe’s time at WSU. Margaret recalled, “Joe was really happy to land the job at WSU. Teaching was in our blood; I was a teacher myself at Lincoln Middle School in Pullman. The first memory I have of arriving at WSU is of Kelma and Jim Short hosting a dinner for all the new faculty and spouses. It was a great entry into the Wazzu community.”

At WSU, DeMartini taught Introduction to Sociology, Collective Behavior and Social Movements, and Social Policy courses. He was associate editor of Teaching Sociology for six years and chaired the ASA section on Undergraduate Education from 1985 to 1986. Joe was deeply committed to teaching and took a strong interest in helping others become better instructors.

Joe’s legacy and his passion for teaching live on through the fellowship in his name, which provides important support for WSU Sociology graduate students who share that passion. Sociology PhD candidate Sarah Deming recently used the award to fund her attendance at the 2022 Work and Family Researchers Network conference in New York. At the conference, Deming presented her research and attended teaching-related sessions. Another recent award recipient, Sociology PhD candidate Kyle Rakowski, remarked about the award, “There are few things I enjoy and value as much as the privilege of teaching. It’s an honor to have my commitment recognized.”

If you would like to support students and programs in the Sociology department, gifts are welcome and can be made securely online. For more information about giving to the Department of Sociology, please contact the College of Arts and Sciences Development team at 509-335-1096 or