Melvin L. Oliver is the SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences and Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science. The Division of Social Sciences is the largest Division in the College of Letters and Science and includes twelve departments and programs and a broad array of interdisciplinary research centers. There are approximately 159 faculty members, 350 graduate students, and 6,885 undergraduate majors in the Division. Professor Oliver brings to bear over 25 years of experience in both philanthropy and higher education.
Prior to coming to UCSB, Dr. Oliver was Vice President of the Asset Building and Community Development (Assets) Program at the Ford Foundation. This program helped to build human, social, economic, environmental, and interpersonal assets among poor and disadvantaged individuals and communities throughout the world. During his tenure at the Foundation, the Assets Program developed pioneering grant initiatives such as the $50 million Self Help-Fannie Mae program to secure home mortgages for 35,000 low-wealth households and change the way banks evaluate applications for home mortgages; the American Dream demonstration on Individual Development Accounts; and the Leadership for a Changing World program, a recognition program to identify and support leaders and to highlight the importance of leadership in improving people's lives.
From 1978 to 1996, Dr. Oliver was a member of the faculty at UCLA, teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. A popular and effective instructor, he has won numerous awards for teaching. In 1994, he was named both the California Professor of the Year for his "extraordinary dedication to teaching and commitment to students" and the winner of the Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCLA Alumni Association.
An expert on racial and urban inequality and poverty, Dr. Oliver is the author (with Thomas M. Shapiro) of Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality (Tenth Anniversary Edition, published 2006), which has received the Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award from the American Sociological Association; the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems; and the award for the outstanding book on the subject of human rights from the Gustavus Myers Center. Most recently, he is the co-editor of Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles, which draws on a unique, custom-designed survey of over 4,000 households and 800 employers. In addition, Dr. Oliver has co-edited three other books and special journal issues and is the author of over 50 scholarly publications.
Dr. Oliver earned his B.A. (1972) at William Penn College in Iowa and his M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. (1977) at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in sociology. In 2004, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University during its sesquicentennial year celebrations.
Dr. Oliver serves on the boards of the Urban Institute in Washington D.C., the William T. Grant Foundaion, and is an Advisory Board member of the National Poverty Center at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.