Bill Kelly Remembers Neil Smith

GC President Bill Kelly issued a formal remembrance of Neil Smith this week, which we are running here. President Kelly writes:

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, the Graduate Center suffered the loss of a dearly-held colleague last week in the passing of Neil Smith, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology.  Any loss diminishes us all, but Neil’s death is a particularly hard blow.  I feel his passing deeply, both personally and professionally. Neil was one of the first faculty members I recruited when I became Provost.  We spent many hours together plotting the future of the Graduate Center.  What seemed, in those days, to be dreams have for the most part become realities.

Neil’s founding of the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics was a foundational moment, one that set us on a new course.  His vision for the Center – its passionate commitments, its sustainability, its generative seminars, its attention to both the local and the global – became a template for much that we have built.  More, Neil’s spirit, the energy he brought to every enterprise, inflected our efforts with a raucous joy.  His influence has been incalculable; his loss profound.

I know that most of you are familiar with Neil’s work, but for the record, I note that he was one of the most influential geographers of his generation.  He was educated, first, at St. Andrews and, then, at Johns Hopkins, where he earned his Ph.D.  His scholarship centered on the interrelation of space, nature, social theory and history.  His work on gentrification remains seminal; so too his contributions to our understanding of globalization and its discontents.

His influence was widely felt. He delivered plenary addresses at major international conferences and published prolifically.  His many honors include the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Biography, the Henry Adams Book Prize, and the Globe Award for Public Understanding of Geography.

Our loss is amplified by the heartfelt comments on the CPCP’s website, from colleagues, students, and friends.  They document Neil’s contributions to his field and the force of his galvanizing personality.

We will convene a memorial event later this year.

With great sorrow,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 OpenCUNY » login | join | terms | activity 

 Supported by the CUNY Doctoral Students Council.