John Seeley, a York founding faculty member, dies at 95

John Ronald Seeley, former York sociology professor, died on Dec. 16, 2007, at his Los Angeles home. He was 95.

Born in 1913, Prof. Seeley was a founding faculty member of York in 1960 and two years later became the inaugural Chair of the Department of Sociology at Glendon College. He also served as an assistant to York’s founding president Murray Ross.

During York’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 1999, Prof. Seeley was one of 66 people honoured with membership to the York University Founders’ Society for their major contributions to the University during its founding years.

Prof. Seeley, who was known as Jack by friends, family and colleagues, was educated in the UK and in the US, where he taught and conducted research until 1947 when he became executive officer of the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene, later the Canadian Mental Health Association. One year later, he began teaching at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. Soon after he was cross-appointed to the Department of Political Economy in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.

He served as director of the Forest Hill Village Project study from 1948 to 1953 – later published as Crestwood Heights: A Study of the Culture of Suburban Life  (Basic Books, Inc., 1956), co-authored with R. Alexander Sim and Elizabeth Loosely. He then served as research director of the Alcoholism Research Foundation of Ontario from 1957 to 1960.

Prof. Seeley was the author of several books, articles and reports on aspects of sociology, social psychiatry and education. In addition to the study of Crestwood Heights, he was the author of The Americanization of the Unconscious (New York: International Science Press, 1967), and over four hundred reviews, articles, chapters and papers.

Just last week, a 1950s-era photo with a brief tribute to Prof. Seeley and several of his colleagues was Web-published as part of the U of T Department of Psychiatry’s 6th Centenary Vignette.