William Julius Wilson (born December 20, 1935)
Is an American sociologist. He taught at the University of Chicago from 1972 to 1996 before moving to Harvard University.
Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He is one of 24 University Professors, the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member. After receiving a Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1966, Wilson taught sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1972. In 1990 he was appointed the Lucy Flower University Professor and director of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. He joined the faculty at Harvard in July 1996. He is affiliated with the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Wilson was an original board member of the progressive Century Institute, and a current board member at Philadelphia-based Public/Private Ventures as well as PolicyLink and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Past President of the American Sociological Association, Wilson has received 41 honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Princeton University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Bard College, Dartmouth College, and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, Wilson has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine, and the British Academy. In June 1996 he was selected by Time magazine as one of America's 25 Most Influential People. He is a recipient of the 1998 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States, and was awarded the Talcott Parsons Prize in the Social Sciences by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.
Other honors granted to Wilson include the Seidman Award in Political Economy (the first and only noneconomist to receive the Award); the Golden Plate Achievement Award; the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University; the American Sociological Association's Dubois, Johnson, Frazier Award (for significant scholarship in the field of inter-group relations); the American Sociological Association's Award for Public Understanding of Sociology; Burton Gordon Feldman Award ("for outstanding contributions in the field of public policy") Brandeis University; and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award (granted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Los Angeles).
Professor Wilson is a member of numerous national boards and commissions, and was previously the Chair of the Board of The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and of the Russell Sage Foundation.
In 2010, Wilson received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Lifetime Achievement Award in Nonfiction.