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Matthew T. Lee, Vice President

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After studying crime and deviance for over a decade—an effort that produced 30 articles or book chapters and one book on the topic—Matthew R. Lee, Ph.D. (Sociology, University of Deleware), was increasingly drawn to the brighter side of human behavior. This pull toward the positive led him to create the first course on diverse types of love (romantic, parental, altruistic) in the history of the discipline of sociology. He taught the Sociology of Love for the first time in the spring of 2006. It has since been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education and a number of other publications, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Life and Leisure Magazine, the Akron Beacon Journal, and the Canton Repository. Students are encouraged to “put theory into practice” by infusing all of their relationships with a strong dose of thoughtful altruism. Dr. Lee received the Faculty Mentor Award (presented by the graduate students in UA’s Department of Sociology) and was selected as a Favorite Faculty Member (an award presented by Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa). He has been selected twice for inclusion in Who’s Who among America’s Teachers.

Dr. Lee is currently serving as Project Director and Co-Principal Investigator on the $2.3 million “Flame of Love” grant. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, this grant focuses on the “Great Commandment”—loving and knowing God’s love and then reaching out to love others. This research is demonstrating that self-giving love paradoxically ends up being self-affirming in the sense that doing for others over a lifetime of benevolence in the service of a higher cause—even to the extent of risking one’s personal safety—can generate a sense of meaning and purpose that few of us seem to be able to attain on our own. These findings challenge conventional understandings of altruism and have the potential to show us how to increase compassionate love in our society and beyond. A co-authored book on this topic, titled Social Filters of Godly Love: A Sociological Study of the Great Commandment in the Pentecostal Context, is forthcoming with the Edwin Mellen Press. Dr. Lee is also currently serving as Co-Investigator on two related projects, also funded by the Templeton Foundation: 1) “Risking Death for the Love of God: A Theological and Psychological Study of Pentecostal Engaged in High Risk Social Action” and 2) “Charismatic Renewal as Mission: Godly Love and the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship’s Soaking Centers.”

In July of 2009, Dr. Lee was selected to serve as Vice President of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love. He is also Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Center for Restorative Justice of North Central Ohio. He also serves as a Fellow at the University of Akron’s Center for Conflict Management and is the newsletter editor for the Altruism and Solidarity Section-in-Formation of the American Sociological Association. Dr. Lee sits on the editorial boards of three scholarly journals and is an ad hoc reviewer for the National Science Foundation.

Matthew T. Lee Ph.D.M
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Akron
Akron, OH 44325-1905