Dear members of the TC Community,

It is with deep sorrow that I report that Lambros Comitas, Gardner Cowles Professor of Anthropology and Education and a beloved member of our faculty for more than 56 years, passed away earlier today at age 92.

Lambros was widely regarded as among the world's preeminent authorities on Hispanic and non-Hispanic cultures in the Caribbean. He helped develop the concept of occupational multiplicity, identifying workers who defied classification as peasant farmers or other categories. His work provided important insights for government programs and international aid aimed at improving people’s economic circumstances.

And for nearly 40 years, beginning in 1967, he reviewed and annotated more than 2,000 anthropological publications for his biennial West Indian section in the Handbook of Latin American Studies, issued by the Library of Congress. More recently, Lambros focused on the role in research of visual anthropology, using a photo and video database that he had built over many years. 

Lambros also had a transformational impact on Teachers College. He helped to create doctoral programs both in Applied Anthropology and Anthropology & Education. From 1979 through 1996, he directed what was then TC’s Division of Philosophy, the Social Sciences, and Education, as well as the Institute for International Studies. He also directed Columbia’s Institute for Latin American and Iberian Studies and was affiliated with the Research Institute for the Study of Man, a leading Caribbean-focused foundation.

Lambros was beloved by generations of students, faculty colleagues, and staff for his sly sense of humor, his statesmanship in faculty governance -- he co-chaired the search committee that hired Arthur Levine, the College’s ninth president --  and above all, his commitment to mentoring students (some 100 students completed their doctorates under his guidance).  

There is no replacing a scholar and human being of Lambros Comitas’ caliber. He was cherished, and will be greatly missed.


Thomas Bailey
President, Teachers College