Dear Members of the SIPA community,
It is with great sadness that today we mourn the loss of one of the most beloved members of our faculty and the SIPA and Columbia community – Mayor David N. Dinkins.
Mayor Dinkins was a trailblazing political leader – the first and only Black Mayor of New York City who devoted his life and talents to public service and improving the lives of others. His legacy as mayor and as a public servant will long endure.
Mayor Dinkins was also a remarkable and generous educator, joining SIPA in 1994 after his time in office concluded. Over the next 25 years, he enriched our community in so many profound and lasting ways. Mayor Dinkins taught generations of SIPA students the intricacies of local and urban governance, drawing from his vast knowledge and first-hand experience. For more than 20 years, he also convened and hosted the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, a premier venue for leading figures to share their views on pressing urban and social issues with the broader Columbia community. We are proud that the Dinkins Forum continues to this day.
Mayor Dinkins’s importance to SIPA was further solidified in 2016 through the establishment of the David N. Dinkins Professor of Urban and Public Affairs, a faculty position reserved for an individual with a distinguished record of public service in urban governance who embodies Mayor Dinkins’s values and vision. We are grateful to Michael Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia, for serving as the inaugural holder of this professorship. As a member of the SIPA Advisory Board, Mayor Dinkins also contributed to the development and further growth of SIPA, a role for which I am personally grateful.
Above all, Mayor Dinkins was a joyous, thoughtful, and devoted husband, father, teacher, as well as a remarkable colleague to so many of us. As many in our community know, Mayor Dinkins spoke often about his beloved wife Joyce, who passed away in October, and her significance in his life and work. In the coming weeks, we will find additional ways to recognize his exceptional life and legacy.
We extend our deepest condolences to Mayor Dinkins’s family and friends.
Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs