J. Herman Blake Wins the Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociology Association

J. Herman Blake, professor emeritus of sociology and founding provost of Oakes College at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and former president of Tougaloo College in Mississippi, received the Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology from the American Sociology Association. The award recognizes his lifetime achievements in advancing the field of sociology through the positive impact of his work.

Professor Blake grew up in poverty outside of New York City. He attended New York University for his undergraduate education and went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1966, he joined the sociology faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was the university’s first Black faculty member.

Dr. Blake played a leading role in the development of Oakes College at the Univerity of California, Santa Cruz, which was founded in 1972 to promote cross-cultural learning and support the academic achievement of students from historically marginalized communities. He served as founding provost of Oakes College until 1984, alongside a group of faculty members representing a diverse array of racial, ethnic, and gender identities and academic disciplines.

Following his 18-year tenure at the Univerity of California, Santa Cruz and his term as president of Tougaloo College in Mississippi, Dr. Blake took on other roles in higher education including vice chancellor at Indiana University, director of African American studies at Iowa State University, and founder of the Sea Islands Institute at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.

“The important thing for me now is reaching out beyond the academy and motivating and inspiring people who have not been considered as worthy of a higher education and seeing them take advantage of the opportunity and grow beyond where they ever anticipated,” Dr. Blake said.

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  1. A true pioneer whose life and endeavors have made a profound difference in the lives of so many! It’s gratifying to see him so recognized by his scholarly and professional peers.

  2. Congrats to you Dr. Blake! I thank God for you! You had a profound impact on my life; you are God sent and I will never forget you, nor your words of inspiration while you were president at Tougaloo College!! Thank you and may God continue HIS blessings on your life!!

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