Susan Ortiz, Ph.D.

Lecturer of Sociology

Contact Information

  • 828-251-6978
  • 218 Zageir Hall

Spring 2021 office hours are online by appointment only.

My eyes widened in disbelief and horror as my principal strolled into my high school math class wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. He approached the only African American student in our school and handed him a razor. My teacher and the other students in the class smiled with understanding, as our principal proceeded to explain the school policy of ‘no facial hair’ and asked the student to go to the middle of the library for a public shaving. Upon reaching the library, my principal laughed and told him to go to the bathroom and shave instead. My teacher - and most of the students in my class – all seemed to enjoy the “joke,” but as a student of color in a school with few others like me, I sank lower in my seat and tried to stifle my outrage.

Looking back, I wish I had the knowledge, awareness, and understanding about  race and ethnicity that I do now - and the courage to speak out.  I also wish my fellow students knew how even seemingly innocent jokes can impact the lives of others. My goal is to assist students in developing that multi-cultural understanding and awareness concerning areas of inequality and stratification as well as the ability to critically evaluate their own standpoint and privilege.

The experiences I had growing up in a small segregated community had a profound impact on my worldview. As an undergraduate, I majored in education because I thought becoming a teacher would help satisfy my desire to be a role model for underrepresented students, but I soon realized that the subject I was teaching mattered to me almost as much as the teaching itself. While working with students and faculty at two local high schools on social justice issues, I discovered sociology. As a graduate student, I found that teaching sociology not only allowed me to be a role model for underrepresented students, but it also gave me the opportunity to teach and collaborate with students to promote civic engagement and a deeper understanding of the relationship between inequality, social justice, public policy, and social change. These are my over-arching goals in every course.

When students take any of my classes, I want them to have a better understanding of how to interpret, explain, and evaluate the structural forces and institutions that impact individuals and groups in society. I ask them to use logic and reason to back up their thoughts and arguments as they move to understand the complexity underlying both social stratification and issues of inequality. I do this by incorporating both history and current events whenever possible. Through history, students will learn a deeper understanding of how we arrived at the society in which we find ourselves today, and through current events they will learn how societies continue to maintain and reproduce inequality patterned on the social interactions and institutions that came before them.


  • Ph.D. in Sociology, May 2013, The Ohio State University
    • Dissertation Title – “Disrupting Privilege? ‘Progressive’ White Heterosexual Men on Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation”
  • M.A. in Sociology, 2005, The Ohio State University
    • Thesis Title – “Women’s Experience of Discrimination at Work: Intersections of Race and Class with Gender”
  • B.A., with Honors in Education, 1996, New Mexico State University

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Social Stratification (Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Class)
  • Social Problems
  • Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Women, Work and Society
  • Men, Masculinities and Inequality
  • The Family

Teaching and Research Interests

Race and Ethnic Relations, Social Stratification (Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, Class), Social Problems, Sociology of Gender, Contemporary Social Theory, Ideology and Culture, Labor Market Inequality