On the Passing of Professor Charles Tilly

April 29, 2008

Columbia lost one of its finest citizens when Professor Charles Tilly passed away April 29. Most recently the Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, serving the departments of Political Science and Sociology, he was a scholar of boundless energy and intellect. Few could, or will ever, match his scholarly output and lasting impact. His 50 years of teaching, writing and intellectual inspiration will be missed here at Columbia and everywhere people seek to understand how history and societies move forward.

The extraordinary half-century career of Charles Tilly continuously demonstrated scholarship that transcended disciplinary boundaries. It seemed that he could write, interpret, and explain virtually anything to curious minds. With more than 600 articles and 51 books and monographs bearing his name, Charles Tilly literally wrote the book on the contentious dynamics and the ethnographic foundations of political history.

Though he received an extraordinary number of special awards, scholarly inductions and honorary degrees during his long and productive career, we will remember that, since 1996, he was a distinguished member of the Columbia community. His students, fellow faculty members and friends will all remember someone not only who reached and remained at the pinnacle of his field but also a warm and valued colleague who never stopped asking profound questions.

Lee C. Bollinger