Robert Nisbet was an American sociologist, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Vice-Chancellor at the University of California, Riverside and Albert Schweitzer Professor at Columbia University.
Nisbet was born in Los Angeles in 1913. He was raised in the small California community of Maricopa, where his father managed a lumber yard. His studies at Berkeley culminated in a Ph.D. in sociology in 1939. He joined the faculty there in 1939.
After serving in the US Army during World War II, when he was stationed on Saipan in the Pacific theatre, Nisbet founded the Department of Sociology at Berkeley, and was briefly Chairman. Nisbet left Berkeley in 1953 to become a dean at the University of California, Riverside, and later a Vice-Chancellor. Nisbet remained in the University of California system until 1972, when he left for the University of Arizona at Tucson. Soon thereafter, he was appointed to the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Chair at Columbia.
On retiring from Columbia in 1978, Nisbet continued his scholarly work for eight years at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. In 1988, President Reagan asked him to deliver the Jefferson Lecture in Humanities, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He died, aged 82, in Washington, D.C.