Dr. Larry Golden | 2019 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Dr. Larry GoldenDr. Larry Golden, emeritus professor of Political Studies and Legal Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), is the 2019 recipient of the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to individuals or couples whose consistent, exceptional and meritorious service has made significant impact on the University’s overall welfare and advanced its mission. Golden is a founding faculty member of the University whose career of teaching and public service has built prestige and value in the University’s name, all the while working on solutions to issues plaguing society.

Dr. Golden earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and arrived to Springfield with the prospect of teaching courses on civil rights and liberties, law, inequality, and justice. His life and career have been dedicated to teaching and activism around these issues.

In the late 1970’s, Golden assisted in a law suit desegregating the schools of Springfield. In the mid-1980’s, he was a major organizer of a successful civil rights law suit challenging the form of local government.

Golden helped found The Springfield Project (TSP), which seeks to unite the City as a community by working to improve the quality of life for all throughout its neighborhoods. Founded on the heels of a successful trip to Atlanta, Georgia, by a delegation of 40 community leaders, including then Chancellor Naomi Lynn, a service model was implemented to help improve Springfield in areas of most need.

Golden helped found the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, the forerunner to the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP). IIP is dedicated to releasing innocent men and women imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. UIS undergraduates and law students from three of the state’s public law schools have worked alongside attorneys to investigate and legally pursue claims of innocence. Dr. Golden has been instrumental in securing more than $3 million in grants for IIP in the past 8 years.

Dr. Golden retired from full-time teaching and continues to volunteer as the Founding Director with IIP. In addition, Golden contributes to a course on conviction of the innocent; and presents on the topic of wrongful conviction and the work occurring across the country to free the innocent.

The University recognized Golden with presentation of the Spencer Faculty Service Award, which annually honors faculty excellence and commitment to teaching and scholarship.

His distinguished service and leadership are recognized nationally. Golden is a former executive board member of the National Innocence Network, the organization linking over 50 innocence projects around the country. Golden is also a past recipient of the Courageous Voices Award, presented by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. The award recognizes individuals who are at the forefront of pressing issues affecting the community.