On behalf of the American Anthropological Association, I am writing to urge you, in the strongest terms possible, to reconsider your decision not to renew appointments for Professors Carole Vance and Kim Hopper with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Professor Vance is internationally recognized for her work in medical anthropology, sexuality studies, and science studies. In addition, her work has made significant practical contributions for a range of issues related to public health and human rights. Although serving in a research position, Professor Vance has taught and mentored scores of students in the School of Public Health and in Columbia’s Department of Anthropology, many of whom have gone on to make their own significant scholarly and policy contributions. All of the areas in which she works continue to be of crucial importance to students, scholars, and practitioners in the field of public health. Professor Hopper is widely known for his pioneering research on homelessness and schizophrenia in US cities, and for being co-founder and first President of the National Coalition of the Homeless. Professor Hopper’s work on behalf of homeless people who suffer from chronic mental illness is consistently recognized for its superior quality. Like Professor Vance, he has taught and mentored hundreds of students in the School of Public Health, to the University’s great credit.
We are pleased to claim them as Association members because of their training in anthropology, but we are equally pleased with their far-ranging interdisciplinary contributions in public health and medicine. In both cases, their service to the Mailman School for the better part of the past three decades years has been of profound beneficial impact to students and colleagues. We recognize that institutions of higher education have entered a new era of accountability, but everyone suffers when long-term contributors like these two professor are terminated and either not replaced at all or replaced by junior researchers with far less experience who are required to focus on their own short-term salary coverage. I am confident you will reconsider your decision and reinstate Professors Vance and Hopper, and I would welcome a phone conversation if you would like to discuss this matter further.