SBS Dean T.O. Wilkinson Dies at 76
A life of service to the University and
the community of Amherst came to an end Dec. 21 when Thomas O.
Wilkinson, 76, retired professor of Sociology and former dean
of Social and Behavioral Sciences, died.
A recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award in 1963, he taught
at the University from 1953 until his retirement in 1988. He was
also a visiting lecturer at Mount Holyoke College from 1954 to
1961, and he served the town of Amherst as a town meeting member
for most of the last 16 years.
Known as a consensus-builder both on- and off-campus, he was
a significant figure on campus during the years when the University's
population burgeoned from 8,200 to its present size.
"T.O. did an immense amount for the University," said Hilda Golden,
retired professor of Sociology. "He was a very good consensus-builder,
someone who saw the function of the University as doing a lot
for the state.
"He placed an emphasis on seeing the University as an organization
that needs to serve students, faculty and society and less of
an emphasis on climbing the professional ladder. He was a very
good manager in the ideal sense of getting people to work together."
He served as head of the department of Sociology and Anthropology
from 1969-71 and as dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences from
1976-84. When he stepped down from being dean in 1984, it was
with the good of the school in mind.
"I have been here [in the deanship] eight years, and during that
period of time, I've run out of creative ideas," he said. "I want
to give somebody new a look at it."
Know as approachable by students and colleagues alike, he also
served as director of the Population and Research Institute, coordinating
dean of the Bachelor's Degree in Individual Concentration (BDIC)
program, representative to the Five-College curriculum, adviser
to the Class of '65, acting chair of the Asian Studies Program,
campus representative for the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation,
and counselor with the freshman summer orientation program. After
retiring, he worked as a counselor at the College of Arts and
Sciences Information and Advising Center.
His scholarly interests focused on the demography of Japan, where
he served as a civil information and education officer from 1946-48,
and took him to Tokyo Metropolitan University in 1964-65 as a
Fulbright-Hays research scholar. A fellow of the American Sociological
Association, he wrote "The Urbanization of Japanese Labor, 1868-1955,"
which was published by the University Press in 1965 and a joint
author of "World's Metropolitan Areas," published by the University
of California Press in 1950.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North
Carolina, a master's degree from Duke University and a Ph.D. from
Columbia University. He studied Japanese at the U.S. Navy language
He is survived by his wife, Edith; two daughters; one son; and
A memorial service is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 22 in Memorial