Institute to honor Lewis Walker at fundraising dinner

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of Walker Institute logo.

Fundraising dinner to benefit Walker Institute.

KALAMAZOO—A preeminent scholar on race, inequality and urban poverty will headline a dinner program next month to raise funds for Western Michigan University's Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations and to honor the man after whom the institute is named.

The event, "More Than Just Race: A Pathway to the Future," is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom. Reservations are requested by Wednesday, March 6.

The evening will feature a tribute to Dr. Lewis Walker, WMU professor emeritus of sociology, who helped create the institute in 1990 and was the first African-American faculty member with a doctoral degree hired by WMU. The Walker Institute was named in his honor in 2000.

Dr. William Julius Wilson, a friend and former undergraduate classmate of Walker's, will be the event's main speaker. Wilson will discuss the reasons for the persistence of concentrated poverty in many inner city neighborhoods and present his views on a pathway to a better future.

Proceeds from the dinner program will support the Walker Institute's mission to promote more equitable and inclusive communities through research, teaching and service. The event will include a private reception from 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for students, $60 for general admission and $75 for the dinner and private reception. Individual tables are available for groups of eight people.

Visit to register online, become a dinner sponsor or make a gift to the Walker Institute.

For more information, contact Shaghil Husain at or (269) 387-2155.

Photo of Lewis .


Lewis Walker

Walker joined the WMU faculty in 1964 and served as chair of the Department of Sociology from 1989 to 1999, the year he retired from the University after 35 years of service. A specialist in race relations, criminology, juvenile delinquency and social psychology, he served as the Walker Institute's interim director in 2007 and has written seven books and many scholarly articles.

Walker grew up in Selma and Birmingham, Ala., during the Jim Crow era and has devoted himself to studying race, ethnicity and poverty, and the struggle for justice and civil rights. Among the chief beneficiaries of his work are the 20,000 WMU students he has taught and the citizens of Kalamazoo and other Michigan communities where he worked to promote justice and understanding.

A leader on and off campus, Walker has been a member of or consultant to a wide variety of boards. His knowledge in the area of social justice led city officials to utilize his extensive expertise to conduct the first police-community training for police, and he chaired the task force that ultimately led to the creation of the city's Citizens' Public Safety Review and Appeals Board.

Walker has received numerous honors, most recently a 2012 Humanitarian Award from the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. His WMU accolades include a teaching excellence award in 1971, a Distinguished Service Award in 1989 and being named the WMU Alumni "W" Club's Man of the Year for 2007.

Photo of Wiliam Julius .


William Julius Wilson

Wilson is one of only 20 named University Professors, the highest professional distinction a faculty member at Harvard can receive. He teaches in the Kennedy School of Government and also is affiliated with the Department of African and African American Studies. His current research focuses on the increasing concentration of poverty in many large central cities.

A Harvard faculty member since 1996, Wilson previously served as a professor at the University of Chicago and director of that university's Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. He was a MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992 and has been elected to such august bodies as the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and British Academy.

Wilson is the first and only noneconomist to receive the Seidman Award in Political Economy. In addition, he was named one of America's 25 Most Influential People by Time magazine in 1996 and received the 1998 National Medal of Science, the United States' highest scientific honor.

Wilson's many books include "The Truly Disadvantaged" and "When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor." Editors of the New York Times Book Review named the former work one of the 16 best books of 1987 and the latter work a notable book of 1996. His latest book, "More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City," was published in 2010.