Contemplative Studies Initiative and Concentration

The Oliver Hill Contemplative Practice Scholarship

On July 7th, 2020, our dear friend and colleague, Oliver White Hill, Jr., died unexpectedly at his home in Richmond, Virginia.

Oliver, nicknamed “Duke,” was a Professor of Psychology and held several positions at Virginia State University. Recently retired, he served as chair of the Psychology department and as interim dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences. His effort to increase the ranks of students of color in the STEM fields landed a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to bring the Algebra Project, developed by civil rights activist Bob Moses, to Virginia State University. Professor Hill didn't just work to expand sciences and math education, but also served as a board member for Virginia Humanities, formerly the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, an organization that highlights Virginia culture and history. Professor Hill was a board member of Side by Side, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ Virginia youth. Through this organization, he worked to foster a safe environment for LGBTQ Virginia State University students. 

The son of distinguished Civil Rights attorney and activist, Oliver White Hill, Sr., he forged his own unique path and identity as an educator, activist, scientist and contemplative.  Professor Hill travelled to Spain during the 1970s, where he studied Transcendental Meditation for six months under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This experience led to lifelong meditation and mindfulness practices which informed and inspired his work. Shortly before his own death, Professor Hill recorded a meditation to help people with the stresses of racist violence and COVID-19, inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests over the police killing of George Floyd. The goal was, "Not to remove justified anger and pain, but as a way to hold and honor those emotions," he says in the video.

A long-time friend and colleague of Brown Contemplative Studies’ Director, Hal Roth, Professor Hill lectured at the University on contemplation and social justice – most recently on July 2nd, 2020 via Zoom link. To honor this remarkable and inspirational man, we are establishing the Oliver White Hill, Jr. Contemplative Practice Scholarship Fund. This Fund will support Brown University students of color who wish to pursue contemplative practice through attending a retreat, conference or training. 

Please help us spread the word about this opportunity for Brown students of color. 


We are currently accepting donations to this fund.

For more information, please contact