The French department is deeply saddened by the loss of Phil Watts, 52, who died at his home in Morningside Heights, New York, on Saturday, July 20, 2013.
Phil Watts was a beloved member of the Columbia community and will be dearly missed by the many people who had the opportunity to work with him. His warmth, generosity, intelligence, erudition, sense of humor, and tact were unparalleled.
He received his BA in 1982, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his PhD from Columbia in 1991. From 1992 to 2006 he taught at the University of Pittsburgh, where he became Chair of the department of French and Italian. In 2007 he returned to Columbia, where he was Professor of French. As Chair from 2008 to 2012, he led the department with intellectual rigor and professional dedication and, above all, with a deep sense of humanity.
He was a specialist of twentieth-century French literature and film who published on numerous subjects in this area. His book "Allegories of the Purge" (Stanford, 1999) won the MLA Scaglione Prize.
He is survived by his wife, Sophie Queuniet, also a faculty member in the French department, and two young daughters, Madeleine and Louise.
St. Paul's Chapel of Columbia University: memorial service program.