Leon Mayhew Prize

The Leon Mayhew Prize for the Best Qualifying Paper in Sociology recognizes student scholarly achievement and celebrates Mayhew's contributions to sociology and to the UC Davis graduate program.
Leon Mayhew Prize

Leon Mayhew

Leon Mayhew was a scholar's scholar. His published work includes four books and more than a dozen journal articles on topics as diverse as discrimination, social influence, law and institutions. He devoted much of his energy to administration. In addition to chairing the sociology department, he served as chair of the Committee on Academic Personnel; UC Davis vice chancellor for Academic Affairs; dean of the College of Letters and Science; and senior advisor to the Chancellor.

Professor Mayhew was born in Utah in 1935, attended public school in Berkeley, and graduated with a B.A. in sociology from UC Berkeley. He earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. degree in social relations from Harvard and worked in the sociology departments at the University of Michigan and UC Berkeley before joining the UC Davis sociology faculty in 1969. He died in May 2000 at age 64.

He was a man of wide interests who enjoyed discussing Japanese poetry, contemporary economic policy, or piano compositions as much as he enjoyed debating the contributions of Parsons, Habermas, and other social theorists. He also was a man of great integrity. He approached all dimensions of his academic work — teaching, research, administration — with a strong sense of his responsibilities to others. He was deeply concerned about the development and recognition of UC Davis as institution of higher learning. Embedded in that sense of integrity, that concern for the institution, was a strong commitment to a set of fair rules, to mechanisms for ensuring that all relevant parties knew the rules, and to procedures that ensured the just application of the rules.

Mayhew donated money to the department to establish a yearly award for the best graduate student qualifying paper. These funds paid for a yearly award but could not sustain the award beyond 2012. However, a UC Davis sociology faculty member and family donated funds in 2011 to perpetuate a prize in honor of Mayhew's contributions. The award received matching funds from the UC Davis Soderquist Matching Fund Initiative for Graduate Student Support.

The winner of the award receives a prize of at least $500.

Make a donation to the Leon Mayhew Prize fund.

Submission Instructions and Eligibility

To be eligible for the award, papers must be completed within the time period specified for satisfactory progress in the Department's Graduate Handbook — that is, by September 15 of the end of a student's third year of full-time enrollment in the program.

Deadline for submitting the papers to the graduate program coordinator is September 15. The Department of Sociology's Graduate Program Review Committee members review the papers and determine the winner(s) at their annual meeting. Winner(s) are announced in fall quarter of each year (per rules revised May 7, 2015).

Previous Recipients



  • Kristin McCarty: “Welcome to the Family: Polyamory and Kinship in the U.S.”


  • Sean Arseo: “Accountable for what? Organized by whom?: Divergent Outcomes in California Conventional Public, and Management-Organized and Freestanding Charter High Schools.”
  • Bridget Clark: “Rising Tides or Sinking Ships? Evaluating Business Incentives for the Economic Development in US Counties, 1999-2013.”


  • Angela Carter: "Shifts in Adolescent Gender Ideology, 1976–2011: Persistent Race and Gender Differences"
  • Julianne Smith: "I'm Not Gonna Be Another Statistic: The Imagined Futures of Former Foster Youth"


  • Joanna Hale: "The Silver Tsunami: Early-Life Deprivation, Lifetime Social Inequalities, and Memory Disease"


  • Kesley Meagher: "Attitudes About Welfare and Participation in Food Assistance Programs"


  • Ali Chaudhary: "Unequal Entrepreneurship: Race, Generational Status and the Social Organization of Self-Employment"


  • Brian Halpin: "Culinary Consent: Control and Cooperation of Undocumented Workers in the Food Service Industry"
  • John Kincaid: "Examining the Rise of a New Religious Right in Texas Politics"


  • Jennifer Haylett: "One Woman Helping Another: Family and Motherhood in Egg Donor Narratives"

Prior recipients

  • Roxana Bahar 2009
  • Robin Pleau 2008
  • 2007 Brian Dick
  • 2006: Jesse Rude
  • 2005: Jonathan Mermis-Cava
  • 2004: Marcy Sowa
  • 2003: Heather Kohler Flynn