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Yale Law School Mourns Death of Professor Stanton Wheeler



Yale Law School Professor Stanton Wheeler died Friday, December 7, 2007, in New Haven. He was 77. Wheeler was the Ford Foundation Professor Emeritus of Law and the Social Sciences and Professorial Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School.  He died of complications related to a cardiovascular condition.

Professor Wheeler was a prolific scholar known for his leadership in the integration of law and social science, teaching at both Yale Law School and in the sociology department at Yale University. The subjects he taught included administration of criminal justice, white collar crime, sociology of law, sports and the law, and music and the law. He was a longtime master of Morse College, one of Yale's undergraduate residence halls, and had strong ties to the athletic and music departments at Yale. He had a passion for jazz and the trumpet from his youth in Los Angeles and continued to play trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn with jazz bands throughout most of his life.

“Stan Wheeler helped to create the field of sociology of law. For decades, he immeasurably enriched Yale's community as a scholar, teacher, college master, musician, sportsman, and friend,” said Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh.

Professor Wheeler was born in Pomona, California, on September 27, 1930. He graduated from Pomona College in 1952 and earned both a Master’s and Doctorate in sociology from the University of Washington in 1956 and 1958 respectively.

He began his teaching career at the University of Washington in 1956. In 1958, he joined the Department of Social Relations at Harvard University. In 1960, he took leave as an Assistant Professor at Harvard to become a Fulbright Research Scholar at the Institutes of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Oslo, Norway. In 1961, he resumed teaching in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard. He left Harvard in 1963 to become an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington. He joined the Russell Sage Foundation as a sociologist in 1964, serving there until 1968. From 1966 to 1968, he also served as Adjunct Associate Professor in Law and Sociology at Yale University. He joined Yale Law School in 1968 as Professor of Law and Sociology. From 1970 to 1971, he was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. From 1985 to 1987, he took leave from Yale to serve as president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles.

At the time of his death, he was a member of the Board of Senior Editors, Law and Society Review; the Research Committee of the American Bar Foundation; and the editorial board of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization. He was also a member of the trumpet section of the Yale Jazz Ensemble, an undergraduate band. 

Wheeler was the author of ten books, including Social Science in the Making: Essays on the Russell Sage Foundation, 1907-1972 (with David C. Hammack, 1994); Crimes of the Middle Classes: White Collar Offenders in the Federal Courts (with David Weisburd, E. Waring and N. Bode, 1991); and Sitting in Judgment: The Sentencing of White Collar Criminals (with Kenneth Mann and Austin Sarat, 1988). His dozens of articles included “Rethinking Amateurism and the NCAA,” “Sentencing Matters,” and “The Problem of White Collar Crime Motivation.”

In 2004, Wheeler was recipient of The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation Outstanding Scholar Award, presented annually to an individual who has engaged in outstanding scholarship in the law or in government.     

Wheeler is survived by his wife Marcia Chambers, a former reporter for the New York Times; son Kenneth; son Steven and his wife Pat; son Warren and his wife Jeannine; brother Alvin (Bud) Wheeler; sister Nancy Dayton; and grandchildren Jeffrey, Emily, Lauren, Gwendolyn, and Owen.

A brief graveside ceremony will be held in Wheeler’s memory at the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut, on Wednesday, December 12, at 1:30 p.m. A memorial jazz concert is planned for the spring.

Professor Wheeler's family has asked the Law School to collect gifts that individuals may wish to contribute to Yale-affiliated entities in Professor Wheeler's honor.  The family and the Law School have established the Professor Stan Wheeler Fund, which will support Yale Law School faculty and student research and activities related to Stan's areas of interest, which included, but were not limited to, sociology and the law, white collar crime, and sports, entertainment and the law.