In Memoriam: Charles Vert Willie, 1927-2022

Charles Willie, a longtime faculty member and administrator at Syracuse University in New York and Harvard University died early this year. He was 94 years old.

Dr. Willie, a native of Dallas, was the grandson of enslaved people. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1948 where he was elected class president. After earning a master’s degree at Atlanta University in 1949, Professor Willie was awarded a doctorate in sociology in 1957 from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

After earning his doctorate, Dr. Willie joined the full-time faculty at Syracuse University. In 1967, he became the chair of the university’s sociology department. Dr. Willie was the first Black faculty member at the university to be awarded tenure. In 1972, he was appointed vice president for student affairs.

In 1974, Dr. Willie left Syracuse to accept a tenured position as professor of education and urban studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. His areas of research included desegregation, higher education, public health, race relations, urban community problems, and family life.

Dr. Willie formally retired from Harvard in 1999 as the Charles William Eliot Professor of Education Emeritus. But, he continued to teach part-time at the university for another decade.

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  1. RIP Dr. Willie. He and his family used to host big Holiday dinners at his house for students and staff at HGSE. A big heart and he left a big impact on many, including me. Respect.

  2. In all due fairness JBHE, this article should have been 3 or 4 times in length for the warrior scholar Dr. Charles V. Willie. Dr. Willie’s intellectual and scholarly contributions to the field of higher education and the thousands of students, staff, and faculty whose life trajectory was changed due to him. For example, the number of written work by Dr. Willie would be longer than this article itself. Respectfully!

    More important, when intellectual giants such as Dr. Willie made that transition to the ancestor’s it should be appropriately noted in a platform such as JBHE. In close, I send my condolences to Dr. Willie’s family, friends, and colleagues.

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