Donna Sullivan

Dr. Sullivan retired from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in 2023.

Donna Sullivan is an Associate Professor of Sociology in Marshall University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Dr. Sullivan received her Ph.D. in Gerontology from the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston in 2004. She specializes in the field of productive aging, which includes work and retirement, education and training, caregiving, volunteering, and advocacy. Her dissertation, “Aging in the workplace: An Ethnography of middle-aged and older waitresses,” investigated the work and retirement experiences of middle-aged and older women employed as waitresses in the Merrimack Valley of Northeastern Massachusetts and Southeastern New Hampshire. Along with a need for income, the women reported a sense of pride in being a good worker and accomplishment as an active and engaged older woman. For her research on “Family Carework in Appalachia” she was awarded the Sarah Denman Faces of Appalachia Fellowship from the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia (CSEGA) in 2011-12.

In 2014, Dr. Sullivan collaborated with Drs. Robin Conley, Kristi Fondren and Chair Marty Laubach from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology on an introductory study of higher education and employment in Appalachia, which was presented at the 37th Annual Meeting and Conference of Appalachian Studies Association. One result of her portion of this study was a paper presented at the 89th Annual Meeting and Conference of North Central Sociological Association, Cincinnati, OH Apr 2014 on “Story Completion Task and Appalachian Identity Construction.”

Currently, Dr. Sullivan is involved in High-Impact Practices (HIPs), which are pedagogical strategies that encourage learners to engage with the subject matter, therefore providing opportunities for deeper learning to occur. She joined Dr. Kristi Fondren and others in a Marshall University Faculty Learning Group (FLG) developed in Spring 2015 to explore and evaluate best practices related to another type of HIP–that of constructing linked classes as learning communities. Members of this FLG were paired (one teaching an FYS course and one teaching in a content area) to create linked cross-disciplinary courses for incoming freshman for Fall 2015. Students take both courses as a group and work closely with one another and their professors to explore a common topic and/or common readings through the lens of different disciplines. Dr Sullivan was paired with Dr. Jennifer Sias (FYS, Journalism) and their theme will be The American Dream examined through digital storytelling.

Dr. Sullivan uses Writing Across the Curriculum as a teaching methodology in her classes: Intro to Sociology, Social Problems, Intro to the Sociology of Aging, The Family, Death & Dying, Sociology Through Film, and Qualitative Research Methods and Analysis.