Dr. Gilliam is the Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and Professor of Public Policy and Political Science. He most recently served as the first ever Associate Vice Chancellor, Community Partnerships in the University of California system (2002–2008). He was the Founding Director of the Center for Communications and Community at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Grinnell College, and the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. In addition, he taught with former Vice President Al Gore at Columbia University, Fisk University, and Middle Tennessee State University. He is a Senior Fellow at the FrameWorks Institute and was a Visiting Scholar at Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Drake University and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
His research focuses on strategic communications, public policy; electoral politics, and racial and ethnic politics. He is the author of the Farther to Go: Reading and Cases in African-American Politics (Harcourt Brace). Dr. Gilliam has also published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Social Policy Report, Urban Affairs Review, Journal of Politics, Nieman Reports, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, Social Science Quarterly, Public Opinion, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Government and Policy, Sociological Inquiry, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Psychology, Ethiopian Review and The Source. Dr. Gilliam has served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Political Science and Political Research Quarterly. In addition, the National Science Foundation appointed him to the Committee of Visitors. The Ford Foundation awarded Dr. Gilliam a post-doctoral fellowship and he has been twice nominated for UCLA's prestigious Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award. He has also been awarded the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni award, the Mark O. Hatfield National Scholar award, and the Drake University Double D award.
He serves on several local and national boards including Sempra Energy LA, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, and the Institute for Community Peace. He has consulted on a wide range of projects for national foundations (e.g., Kellogg, Gates, the California Endowment, Annie E. Casey, Rockefeller, the Suzuki Foundation) and organizations (e.g., Prevent Child Abuse America; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, National Governor’s Association) makes frequent public on national and international news programs (e.g., CNN, NBC Nightly News, BBC) and has been quoted widely in the press (e.g. New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Black Enterprise).