- Guggenheim Fellow (1988)
William Wiggins came to IU Bloomington in 1969 to begin doctoral studies in folklore. While a student, he also served as the first graduate associate instructor in the Department of African American Studies. He was awarded a Ph.D. in folklore in 1974, being the first African American male to do so. His title was changed from lecturer to assistant professor of Afro-American Studies in 1974. He was promoted from assistant to associate professor in 1980, and was appointed to the faculty of the Graduate School and received tenure, both in 1981. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Folklore and Popular Culture in 1988, his title was changed again from fellow to associate professor of folklore (with tenure) in 1992, and he was promoted from associate to full professor in 1993. He was given the additional title of acting dean of African American Affairs (1998-1999), and became acting chairperson of the Department of Afro-American Studies (2000-2002). Wiggins retired from IU in 2003 with the title of professor emeritus of African American and African diaspora studies and of folklore and ethnomusicology, and began serving as director of the Faculty and Staff for Student Excellence Mentoring Program (FASE) in 2005.
Wiggins obtained a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1956, a B.D. in theology from Phillip’s School of Theology (Atlanta, GA) in 1960, and an M.Th. from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1965. Two notable IU awards were first bestowed on Wiggins, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Building Bridges Award for dedicated service and leadership and the Dr. Herman B Wells Lifetime Achievement Award for individuals who demonstrate dedication and love for students and IU.
Wiggins passed away on December 24, 2016, in Bloomington, Indiana.