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Sudhir Venkatesh Named New Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP)

Office of the Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences

November 23, 2009

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Sudhir Venkatesh as the new director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). Professor Venkatesh will assume the directorship on July 1, 2009, succeeding Robert Shapiro who has been the acting director of ISERP for the past year. On behalf of the Columbia community, I would like to thank Bob for his outstanding service during that time.

Recently honored with the William B. Ransford Professorship of Sociology, Professor Venkatesh has been a member of the Columbia faculty since 1999. Previously a member of Harvard University’s Society of Fellows, Professor Venkatesh received his M.A. (1992) and Ph.D. (1997) in Sociology from the University of Chicago and his BA (1988) in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego. In addition to being a joint member of the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Professor Venkatesh is Director of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship at Columbia University.

Widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost analysts of American urban processes, Professor Venkatesh’s original research combines ethnography, history and process analysis. His investigations of urban neighborhoods in Chicago, New York and Paris have yielded important studies and resulted in numerous award-winning publications. His first work, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (Harvard University Press, 2000) was named Best Book in Sociology and Anthropology (2000) by the Association of American Publishers. Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor (Harvard University Press, 2006) received the C. Wright Mills Award (2006) from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and was named one of the top 10 books of 2006 by Professor Venkatesh’s latest book, Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (Penguin, 2008), is a reported memoir stemming from the years he spent inside Chicago’s gang world and has been received with critical acclaim, including a “Best Book 2008” award from The Economist.

In addition to his writings, Professor Venkatesh has produced several documentaries including Dislocation which aired on PBS in 2005, At the Top of My Voice which is on the festival circuit, and Transformation: The State and Future of Chicago Public Housing which received the Best Documentary Series Award from the Associated Press (Midwest Division). In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has received several research grants, including grants from the Rockefeller, McArthur and Ford Foundations, to name but a few.

Please join me in officially welcoming Professor Venkatesh as Director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy

Nicholas B. Dirks
Franz Boas Professor of
Anthropology and History
Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences