New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on the renowned sociologist and author William Julius Wilson at NYU’s 178th Commencement Exercises in Yankee Stadium. Over 25,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, on William Julius Wilson:
"William Julius Wilson—Harvard University Professor, renowned sociologist and author, throughout four decades of incisive research, you have framed our public discussion of race and urban poverty in ways that have led to universalist public policies engendering hope and opportunity for millions. You earned your Ph.D. in Sociology and Anthropology from Washington State University, were honored as “Teacher of the Year” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and were awarded tenure after just one year at the University of Chicago. Raised poor, you understand poverty from the inside out, interpreting the nexus of structural and cultural forces inherent to urban poverty and recommending solutions to address inequalities. Among your seminal books, heavily shaping the paradigm of your field, are these landmark publications: The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions; The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy; When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor; and your most recent volume, More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City. A MacArthur Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, you are a recipient of the 1998 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed by the United States.
"William Julius Wilson—sage of Amherst, Hyde Park, and Harvard Square, you transcend the polarizing discourse on race in America by opening closed minds with telling facts and wise counsel. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa."