In Memoriam

William Wallace (1944-2006)

Bill Wallace, former associate dean for academic student affairs and executive director of urban health programs at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, died late last month from kidney failure. He was 62 years old.

A native of Brooklyn, Wallace graduated summa cum laude from Howard University and went on to earn master’s degrees from New York Medical College and Harvard University. He later earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from Harvard. Wallace then worked as a senior adviser at Harvard and developed the university’s Health Careers Summer Program which sought to bring more black and minority students into the healthcare field.

Wallace then accepted a position as assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. At Pitt he confronted the administration about the lack of minority students at the medical school. He was told that there were few qualified minority applicants. Wallace then reviewed the files of 102 minority students who were denied admission. He discovered that 100 of the 102 had been admitted to other medical schools of comparable ranking. From that time on, black enrollments at the University of Pittsburgh medical school began to climb.

From 1981 to 1995, Wallace served as an administrator at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Robin M. Williams Jr. (1914-2006)

Robin M. Williams Jr., one of the nation’s leading sociology scholars, has died in Irvine, California, at age 91. Williams, a white man, was a leading scholar on race.

Williams’ work on racial segregation in public schools was used by Thurgood Marshall in his arguments in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Williams’ 1964 book, Strangers Next Door was the culmination of eight years of research on white attitudes toward Negroes. He later was the co-editor of the critically acclaimed book A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society and co-chaired the national Research Council’s Committee on the Status of Black Americans.

Williams was the son of a North Carolina farmer and earned his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina State University. He later earned a master’s and Ph.D. at Harvard. He was a professor of sociology at Cornell University for 56 years before leaving to take on the assignment of building a sociology department at the University of California at Irvine. In 2003 Williams published his final book at the age of 89.