Charles Willie, the Charles W. Eliot Professor Education Emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was awarded the 2005 ASA Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award. The award was presented in recognition of Willie’s lifetime commitment to the profession of sociology and his cumulative work that has contributed significantly to the advancement of the discipline.
Willie has dedicated his professional life to solving social problems. His research interests include desegregation, higher education, public health, race relations, urban community problems, and family life. His expertise in the area of school desegregation is widely known. He has served as a court-appointed master, expert witness, and consultant in many school desegregation cases. In 1975, Willie served as a court-appointed master in the Boston school desegregation case and later was retained to develop a controlled choice student assignment plan for Boston and several school districts. He was recognized in 1983 with the Society for the Study of Social Problems' Lee-Founders Award for effectively combining social research and activism.
President Jimmy Carter appointed Charles Willie to the President’s Commission on Mental Health and on the executive council of the U.S. Episcopal Church. In 1974, Willie delivered the ordination sermon in Philadelphia when the first 11 women were ordained as Episcopal priests, an act which led Ms. magazine to name him a male hero for his courageous action on behalf of women.
Willie grew up in Dallas, and attended Morehouse College and Atlanta University, two historically black institutions. He entered Morehouse in 1944 where he and fellow classmate Martin Luther King, Jr. were the first early admission class. Morehouse had decided to take into the freshman class students who had finished only the 11th grade. He received his doctorate from Syracuse University in 1957.
The author of thirty books and more than 100
articles, Willie’s career has featured teaching in a variety of
settings, including medical schools, a seminary, and a school of
education. All of his writing and teaching has focused on his interest
in applied circumstances, where his concepts, views, and research
efforts may contribute to solving pressing and contemporary social
problems. His career has indeed been a Career of Distinguished
Scholarship worthy of recognition.