DRC-Disaster Research Center

Dr. Gary Kreps


Contact Info 

Name: Gary A. Kreps
Current Title: Vice Provost and Professor Emeritus
Phone: 757-532-5757
E-mail: gakrep@wm.edu
Last Updated: 6/8/09


Brief BIO

Gary Kreps is emeritus Vice Provost and Professor of Sociology at the College of William and Mary. Following completion of his PhD in Sociology (1971) at the Ohio State University, he began and continued his career as a faculty member (1972-retirment) and administrator (1994-retirement) at William and Mary. Kreps has long-standing research interests in organizational and role theories as both relate to structural analyses of community, regional, and societal responses to natural, technological, and willful hazards and disasters. Following work as a staff office and consultant at the National Research Council during the late 1970s, for over twenty years Kreps' archival studies of disaster events were supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. Over the course of two decades, Kreps and his colleagues and students developed taxonomies and theories of organizing and role enactment during the emergency periods of disasters. Major findings from Kreps' research program were reported in two books and articles in Sociological Theory, Annual Review of Sociology, American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, and many other basic and applied publications. Over the years Kreps collaborated with Thomas Drabek on resolving venerable issues in the definition of disasters as physical and sociological events. Kreps' 2001 entry in the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Disaster, Sociology of) emphasizes the need to reconcile functionalist and constructivist conceptions of disasters as acute systemic events. In 2004-2006 he chaired the Committee on Disaster Research in the Social Sciences of the National Research Council. In 2008 he was awarded the E.L. Quarentelli award for career contributions to social science theory and research. He currently serves as a member of National Research Council Committee on National Earthquake Resilience (2009-2010).


About This Alum’s Time at DRC

Years of Tenure(s): 1967-71 
Title and/or Position(s): Research Assistant and then Research Associate 
Projects worked on while at DRC: USAF Office of Scientific Research : Lab studies; NIMH 17 city study: natural disasters and civil disturbances
Other memories: Staff meetings with Henry and Russ; lunches on the basement of 10th street 


Since Leaving DRC

Students mentored in the disaster specialization: 17 graduate students and 16 undergraduate students supported by NSF grants
Agencies/Institutions worked for: College of William and Mary; National Research Council 


Other Information this Alum would like to share:

When I reflect about my work over the years, I think most about the large number of graduate and undergraduate students who have worked with me on issues that are of continuing importance to disaster research and basic social science theory. Working with these students, as we labored with the DRC archives for over 25 years, has been a privilege. I also think about Henry Quarantelli and Russell Dynes, who taught me by example very early on that being a caring mentor of students is as important as the work we do as researchers. I will always cherish their friendship as well as continuing support for my archival research program. And fond memories endure of being one of many graduate students at the Disaster Research Center and learning so much from my co-workers, many of whom have remained colleagues and friends for decades. Finally, between 1976 and 1982 I had the good fortune to work with the late Charles Fritz, who was then at the National Research Council, and who is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of disaster research. Charlie always admonished me to think big about disasters and take intellectual risks.