A rare bit of apolitical tenure news at Columbia arrived today in the form of an email from Urban Studies program director Owen Gutfreund, who announced that he had been denied tenure and will be leaving as soon as next year. Gutfreud, an expert on urban sprawl, had the reputation of being an engaging lecturer and remarkably accessible: “His door was literally always open,” recalls one Urban Studies major. Though of course no professor is without faults (reportedly attempting to convince an entire class to purchase Sim City, for one) Gutfreud’s departure is a great loss to the Urban Studies department and to the University. Full email after the jump.

To all Urban Studies students:

With great regret, I must tell you about some upcoming changes to the Urban Studies Program.  I will not be staying at Barnard.  This was not my decision — I would have liked nothing more than to continue my work here. However, I was not awarded tenure at Barnard, and will now be looking for a job elsewhere.

I’ll still be here at least until the end of the spring semester; my plans for next year, though, are still up in the air (according to faculty rules, after this tenure decision, I have an option to stay for a maximum of one more year).  Of course, until I leave, I’ll continue as Director of Urban Studies.  Professor David Weiman has agreed to assume responsibility for running the Program afterwards.  In the meantime, he and I will work together to ensure the smoothest transition possible.

I have made arrangements to ensure that all of you will have as much advising support as possible during this transition.  Of course, while I am still on the Barnard faculty, I will hold regularly scheduled office hours each week.  In addition, the following other faculty and administrators will be available to advise Urban Studies students (both

current and prospective majors):

Professor David Weiman (dfw5@columbia.edu)

Professor David Smiley ( ds210@columbia.edu) (on leave 2008-2009)

Professor Greg Smithsimon (gs228@columbia.edu)

Professor Lori Minnite ( lminnite@barnard.edu)

Barnard Associate Provost Flora Davidson (fdavidson@barnard.edu)

Columbia Dean of Academic Affairs Kathryn Yatrakis ( kby1@columbia.edu)

Of course, if you have any questions about all of this, please contact me.

I have truly enjoyed the years I’ve spent working with Urban Studies students from Barnard and Columbia.  I will miss the Program and — most of all — its students.


Owen Gutfreund