1994 Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Award for Research Excellence

By Kelly, John R. | Journal of Leisure Research, First Quarter 1995 | Go to article overview

1994 Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Award for Research Excellence


Kelly, John R., Journal of Leisure Research


The story goes that, when told that the average number of student contact hours for faculty at the local state university was six, a legislator railed, "Well, what do they do with the other two hours?" Freedom to work in a multitude of settings is, of course, one of the chief benefits of academic life. But the justification for noninstructional time and the freedom to work away from the classroom or office lies inevitably in the productivity that follows.

When I first encountered Jack Kelly in the Leisure Behavior Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois in 1977, I was quickly impressed with his diligence. He was a nine-to-fiver and apparently involved in a wide variety of projects. Then abruptly in 1982 he went home! This is not to say he neglected his duties; he continued to teach effectively and brought along some fine masters and doctoral students. But other than meeting his classes, holding office hours, and working on a number of university committees, he generally made himself scarce on the scene.

During the ten year period that followed, Jack Kelly was engaged in what arguably has been one of the most productive period of scholarship ever by a person in the field of leisure studies. From 1982 to 1992 he wrote nine books. He also completed numerous articles and chapters along the way and maintained a research program with considerable outside funding; but the books--covering a variety of topics in the sociology of leisure and published by some of the best publishing houses--are the story.

Perhaps the most significant were Leisure Identities and Interactions (1982) and Freedom to Be: Toward New Sociology of Leisure (1987) because these volumes brought important currents in sociological thought to the field of leisure studies and at the same time have lifted the study of leisure to a higher level within the parent discipline of sociology. An Australian reviewer referred to the former as "the best developed and most cogent statement of the interpretive perspective [on leisure] yet produced ... the most important book to date on the subject. Another noted that the book "is rich in scholarship (at the cutting edge of the interpretive sociology of leisure) and represents an important rhetorical strategy for the justification/legitimization of practice and inquiry in leisure." A second nominator for this award, Roger Mannell, noted that in Freedom to Be, Kelly "ably demonstrates how leisure behavior and important research questions can be viewed from different sociological traditions."

Some of Professor Kelly's other work has had a somewhat more applied bent. Peoria Winter (1987) was an outgrowth of a three year grant from the National Institute on Aging to study adaptation in later life and offers a fine example of how to bring a grant project to successful completion.

These volumes in particular were the basis of his being awarded the NRPA Literary Award in 1988. But the combination of empirical research, theory building and application that has characterized his academic career makes him a most deserving recipient of the Roosevelt Award as well. …

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