WPU Presents Distinguished Career Award‏

This year’s Distinguished Career Award was presented Dr. Melvin Oliver of Santa Barbara, California. (submitted photo)

William Penn University presented the 2012 Alumni Hall of Fame awards on Friday, September 28 at the annual Homecoming Recognition Banquet. This year’s Distinguished Career Award was presented Dr. Melvin Oliver of Santa Barbara, California.

The Distinguished Career Award is given to an individual based on distinguished and meritorious achievement in career and life. Candidates for this award are alumni/ae of William Penn University or Nebraska Central College.

Dr. Oliver received his bachelor’s degree from William Penn in 1972, majoring in sociology and social science. He went on to receive his MA and PhD in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After serving as a visiting assistant professor and fellow in sociology and anthropology at the University of Missouri’s Center for Metropolitan Studies, Oliver joined the faculty at UCLA Department of Sociology in 1978. He was named the California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1994. That same year, Dr. Oliver has received the Charles and Harriet Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCLA Alumni Association.


Oliver was a scholar in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation in 1996, and from 1998-2000, served as an elected-at-large member of the Council of the American Sociological Association. Among his honors, Oliver received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University in 2004.

Oliver was named SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2004. At his appointment, UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang stated, “Professor Oliver is a leading scholar and social scientist who has done pioneering research on wealth and racial stratification, inter-ethnic conflict, urban poverty and social-welfare policy in the United States.” Oliver served eight years as the Dean for the Division of Social Sciences. In July 2012, Oliver was named Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science at USCB.

Prior to accepting his role as Dean of Social Sciences at UCSB, Oliver served as Vice President for Asset Building and Community Development at the Ford Foundation from 1996-2004. As Vice President of the Ford Foundation, Oliver led a $180 million per year grant-making program to reduce poverty and injustice around the world.

He co-authored the highly influential book Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality with Thomas Shapiro, which won the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the Outstanding Book Award on the subject of human rights from the Gustavus Myers Center in 1996. Dr. Melvin Oliver has also co-edited three other books and special journal issues and has written over 50 scholarly publications.

William Penn University is honored to present the 2012 Distinguished Career Award to Dr. Melvin Oliver.




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