Friday, March 22

Long-time sociology professor dies at 49

Peter Kollock, a professor of sociology at UCLA, died in a motorcycle accident on Jan. 10. He was 49.

Kollock, a long-time motorcycle enthusiast, died while riding on the 101 freeway near his home in Calabasas.

A brief statement sent out by Bill Roy, chairman of the sociology department, said the exact details of the accident are “still sketchy.”

The Zaragoza, Spain native is survived by his wife, Ellen van Nood, his mother, Marisa LaCabe, his father, James Kollock and two sisters, Marta Peters and Monica Klein.

A long-time professor ““ Kollock came to UCLA in 1989 after graduating from the University of Washington and remained here for his entire career ““ leaves behind an impressive list of accomplishments.

A notice sent out by Ryan Hamilton, the chair’s assistant in the sociology department, said Kollock’s focus “was on personal relations through the theory of social exchange, which models how people rationally negotiate their relations with each other.” He also “integrated the theoretical rigor of rational choice theory with the existential mindfulness of Zen Buddhism.”

His professional accomplishments also include co-editing the first edition of “The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings in Social Psychology” and co-editing “Communities in Cyberspace” with a former student.

Though Kollock mostly worked with graduate students, last quarter he taught a Fiat Lux freshman seminar titled “Zen and the Art of Mindfulness.”

Students from the class said they became very close to Kollock that


“He was very peaceful, happy, intelligent (and) kind,” said Eddy Celis, a first-year anthropology student who was in Kollock’s class.

“He was a nice person to talk to if you had any problems. You could go to him and you’d feel better after talking to him.”

In the class, Kollock taught students how to be more mindful of their surroundings, along with relaxation and meditation. Celis said Kollock took advantage of the hourly bells ringing from Powell Library as an opportunity to exercise these techniques.

“When the bells would ring, he would tell us to close our eyes and just be aware of each breath that we took,” Celis said.

Last June, Kollock embarked on a two-week motorcycle trip called the “Great Divide Ride” with other motorcyclists.

Phil Easterday, a friend of Kollock’s, was also on the ride. He said Kollock often spoke of his fondness for teaching and his area of expertise.

“I think he wanted to share that enthusiasm. The critical point was to not lose focus of the potential to affect other people around you,” Easterday said.

“I really enjoyed his approach and just his enthusiasm for being a professor. He was never going to go anywhere else; he just really loved it,” Easterday added.

Easterday also described Kollock as “easy to talk to.” He said that the Great Divide Ride was “kind of an endurance ride” and that people’s real personalities often shone through at the end of a long day on a bike.

Easterday said that no matter what had happened that day, “Peter was just always fun to be around.”

He said evenings around a fire often included Kollock performing full-length scenes from the “Monty Python” films, line for line.

“I’ve never really known anyone who could sit down and recite the lines from a movie perfectly, and just hundreds of them. It just didn’t stop,” Easterday said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Pete MacLachlan is the general manager of BMW Motorcycles of Ventura County, where Kollock bought his BMW 800 GS motorcycle. He said Kollock was friends with a lot of other store regulars.

“He was a lovely guy; he was very close to all of us. He was one of those guys that when he walked into the shop you were glad to see him,” MacLachlan said.

In addition to motorcycles in general, MacLachlan said Kollock was a fan of dual-sport riding, going off the beaten path and onto gravel roads and horse trails.

Celis said he was shocked by the news of Kollock’s death. He had planned on stopping by Kollock’s office to chat with him this week.

“We didn’t expect something like that to happen,” Celis said. “(It’s) kind of heartbreaking that I’m not able to speak to him now.”

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.