Ralph Cherry, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Ralph Cherry


I am an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Sociology on the Hammond campus, where I thoroughly enjoy teaching social research methods, aging & the life course, health, and intro to sociology.

Research Overview

My research interests include: the perception and use by older people and families of community health and human services; the quality of long term care; the social construction of “collective goods” (such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid); and the contrast of public vs. market solutions to social problems.

I was attracted to teaching sociology because it invites active interest in all aspects of social life. Along the way I meet people through playing sports (tennis, handball), and ... won a campus ping pong championship a few years ago. I really enjoy seeing former students & hearing of the roles and occupations in which they are now involved.

Select Publications

“Mothers’ Selection of Future Primary Caregivers in Rural West Java, Indonesia” (with A. Surachman*, A. Edwards, K. Sweeney). Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology. 33:247-263, August, 2018.

“Who Uses Community Service Directories? Extending the Behavioral Model to Information Use by Older People.” Research on Aging, 25:248-273, September, 2002.

“Community Presence and Nursing Home Quality of Care: The Ombudsman as a Complimentary Role.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 34, December, 1993.

Teaching Focus

Students in all my courses apply sociological concepts, theories, and data to their everyday lives. Applications include jobs and careers, sports and family, and critical thinking about social justice & inequalities of race and class. My students debate national health insurance & public health enemy #1; they learn about “successful aging”; and they conduct research on issues of their choice.

Previous Roles

Nominations & Elections Committee, Midwest Sociological Society, 1999-2001.

President, the Midwest Council for Social Research on Aging (MCSRA), 1996-1998.

Director, Gerontology Center, Purdue University Calumet, 1988-2000.

Ralph Cherry


(219) 989-2575


Office Location:

Hammond Campus, Porter Hall 216C


  • Ph.D. – Sociology, University of Minnesota
  • M.S. – Sociology, Portland State University
  • B.A. – Sociology, Magna Cum Laude with Honors, Oklahoma Baptist University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Aging and the Life Course
  • Sociology of Health Social Research Methods

Credentials, Accreditations & Awards

  • Purdue University Calumet Faculty Senate Chair; Fall, 2011 – Spring, 2012.
  • Principle Investigator, 1991-1994. “The Knowledge & Use of Health and Human Services by Older People,” grant by Lake Area United Way.
  • NIMH Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Missouri, 1983-1985.