Sutherland, Robert Lee (1903–1976)

By: Wayne H. Holtzman

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Robert Lee Sutherland, sociologist, was born in Clarinda, Iowa, on February 11, 1903, to Charlotte (Cleveland) and Donald Grant Sutherland. Before receiving his A.B. degree at Knox College in 1925, he was editor of the college annual, winner of the Bancroft Oratorical Contest, and member of Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Sigma Rho, and Sigma Delta Chi. He returned to Knox College fifteen years later to receive the Alumni Award and again in 1958 to be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree. He married Marjorie Lewis of Knoxville, Illinois, on August 24, 1926; they had one daughter. In 1927 he received his M.A. degree from Oberlin and accepted his first teaching position as professor of public speaking at Huron College, Huron, South Dakota. Further advanced studies at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in social ethics and sociology in 1930 led to Sutherland's appointment as professor of sociology at Bucknell University, where he remained for ten years. His Introductory Sociology (1937) became the leading text in the field, going through six editions in the next twenty-five years. In 1939 a nationwide search was begun for a director to head the newly organized Hogg Foundation for Mental Hygiene (see HOGG FOUNDATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH) at the University of Texas at Austin, leading to the appointment of Sutherland as professor of sociology at the university and as director (later president) of the Hogg Foundation, positions he held for the remainder of his career. By the close of World War II Sutherland and other representatives of the foundation had lectured on mental health issues in 152 Texas communities, working with 2,000 groups and more than 400,000 people. He was also active as a sociologist and professor until his retirement in 1974, when he was named president emeritus of the Hogg Foundation. Sutherland's services were much in demand in Texas and also nationally and internationally. He was an active member of the board of trustees for the Woman's Foundation (1946–50), Stephens College (1943–52), Knox College (1958–65), the Foundation Library Center (1958–64), the National Advisory Council on Dental Research (1960–63), and the Council on Foundations (1967–73). He organized and served as lifetime board member of the Conference of Southwest Foundations. Sutherland was elected to Phi Kappa Phi and to the Philosophical Society of Texas. He was a Presbyterian and a member of the Democratic party. He died on November 19, 1976, and was buried at Austin Memorial Park. Shortly after his death the Texas Senate passed a memorial resolution noting his many contributions to the state and nation.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in America, 1950–51.


  • Education
  • University Presidents and School Administrators
  • Health and Medicine
  • Educators
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders
  • Hospital, School, and Association Administrators

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Wayne H. Holtzman, “Sutherland, Robert Lee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 24, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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