William M. Evan, 87, formerly of Swarthmore, a professor emeritus of sociology and management at the University of Pennsylvania and a peace activist, died of kidney failure Friday at Martins Run, a retirement community in Media.
Dr. Evan joined the Penn faculty in 1966. He taught in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School, and consulted with major corporations and government agencies on issues including organizational design and crisis management.
The author of more than 100 articles published in professional journals, Dr. Evan also wrote or cowrote 15 books, including Organization Theory, Knowledge and Power in a Global Society, and War and Peace in an Age of Terrorism.
His book Minding the Machines: Preventing Technological Disasters, written in 2002 with Mark Manion, was translated into Chinese. He had been a visiting professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the University of Chicago, and Oxford University.
After retiring officially at 70, Dr. Evan continued to teach at Penn and wrote about justice, nuclear disarmament, and conflict resolution until two years ago, said his daughter, Raima.
In 2006, while teaching a class on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, he wrote lyrics for a song about the subject and sent them to folksinger Pete Seeger. Seeger revised the lyrics and wrote a melody. The song, "Breakdown," was published with the copyright under the names of Seeger and Dr. Evan, his daughter said.
Dr. Evan was born Velvul Goldstein in Ostrow, Poland. His family emigrated to the United States when he was 7. While attending Seward Park High School in New York City, he became active in the movement to create a Jewish and Arab state in Palestine. He studied Jewish culture and Hebrew at Herzliah Academy in Manhattan and Arabic at Columbia University.
During World War II, he learned Moroccan Arabic and taught it to U.S. Army soldiers at Penn, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1946.
Dr. Evan, whose elementary school teachers had changed his first name to William, changed his last name from Goldstein in the 1940s because Jews in academia were being discriminated against, his daughter said.
He earned a master's degree in sociology from the University of Nebraska, and studied at the London School of Economics on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1951. He earned a doctorate in sociology from Cornell University in 1954.
Before going to Penn, he taught at Princeton University, Columbia, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a sociologist at the Social Science Research Department at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey.
Since 1948, he had been married to Sarah Kaufman Evan. They met in high school, and reconnected years later when they bumped into each other on the subway after attending a lecture.
"Throughout his life, his greatest joys were his family, his love of teaching, and his love of music," his daughter said. "Reading the New York Times and drinking tea with lemon were two of his favorite pastimes."
In addition to his wife and daughter, Dr. Evan is survived by a son, Robert, and three grandchildren.
Dr. Evan donated his body to Penn's Medical School. A memorial service will be held, but no date has been set.
Memorial donations may be made to Americans for Peace Now, 1101 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.