Jean Anyon!

Jean Anyon III

Dear Commons Community,

The students, faculty, and staff of the CUNY Graduate Center and the Program in Urban Education lost one of our pillars with the death of Jean Anyon.  Jean had been fighting cancer for about a year and succumbed to it yesterday.  Up until the third week in August, she had hoped to teach her courses this fall.

Jean had been on the Urban Education faculty since its beginnings and in every sense was critical to its development and success.  Her thoughts, positions, and ideas added mightily to the vibrancy of our program.  Her scholarship on political economy as a lens to examine public policy regarding urban neighborhoods and schools is respected throughout the professional education community.   Her books, Radical Possibilities and Ghetto Schooling, are standard reading in every education program in the country.

She was incredibly loyal to and supportive of our students.  She guided and helped them in any way she could.  She taught them to be activists and led them on Occupy Wall Street marches.  To do a dissertation under  Jean’s tutelage was an experience that established a foundation for a scholar’s career and life’s work.

Jean was a friend from whom I sought advice and counsel.  In addition to our regular conversations throughout the academic year, I especially enjoyed having dinner with her at the end of each semester.  I used these occasions to help me reflect on the ups and downs of our program. Our discussions always turned to our students, both those who were succeeding as well as those needing more assistance.  I inevitably found myself using her insights to guide me during the coming semester.

We will all miss her dearly.

Our sincerest condolences go out to Jean’s family especially her daughter, Jessie.


Jean Occupy WallStreet


  1. Tony, several of Jean’s friends here in the Cadosia area were inquiring about any services in the NY city area, as many also live there. They were unable to find any information and I thought perhaps you could direct us and I will pass it along. Thank you.

  2. Dear Tony,

    I write to offer our sincere condolences to you, faculty, friends and family of the late Professor Jean Anyon, who was highly regarded the world over.

    First may I introduce myself and my colleagues? I am an Australian located in Leeds UK and I corresponded with Jean for the last six months given she had accepted an invitation to come to the UK (and Ireland) to work with us on an initiative to inform public debate on ‘poverty and schooling’. I last heard from her on 31 July when she indicated that I should keep her posted on the arrangements for the tour.

    I was just doing so on my return to the office on Monday after the summer holidays, my own trip to Cork as external examiner, and the British Educational Research Association (BERA) conference in Brighton. I was thrilled to send her the final emails indicating that I had secured the agreement of colleagues, who were all working to secure the funding so Jean could deliver public lectures and/or lead seminars in the following cities: Leeds, Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Cardiff and London.

    That we could organize such a tour is a mark of the esteem in which Jean was held, and the enthusiasm at the prospect of her visit from colleagues in all these institutions was palpable.

    Then we heard the sad news of Jean’s death on Monday and read your blog. We can only concur with your thoughts and sentiments. We are now hoping to come together to plan a tribute here, and perhaps in time, we could correspond with you to seek your advice on any potential publication.

    For now though please know our thoughts are with you all at this very sad time.

    Yours sincerely,


    with and on behalf of colleagues:

    Visiting Professor Terry Wrigley, Leeds Metropolitan University

    John Carr @ Vere Foster Trust, Dublin

    Professor Kathy Hall, University College Cork

    Professor Joanne Hughes, Queens University Belfast

    Dean Dr Rowena Arshad, University of Edinburgh

    Professor Gabrielle Ivinson, University of Aberdeen

    Professor David James, Cardiff University

    Professor Gary McCulloch and Professor Stephen Ball, London Institute of Education

    Dr Ruth Boyask, Plymouth University (Convenor, BERA Social Justice SIG)

    Professor Lori Beckett

    The Winifred Mercier Professor of Teacher Education

    Carnegie Faculty

    Leeds Metropolitan University

    Headingley Campus

    Leeds LS6 3QS

    (w) +44 (0)113 81 26510

    (m) +44 (0)7920 450108

  3. Professor Anyon served on various committees with me at the GC. She was a pleasure to have as a member on these committees especially on the Structure Committee where she made many useful suggestions that are now incorporated into the GC’s Bylaws and Governance Document.
    My condolences to her family. She will be a loss to the GC community.

    Alice Eisenberg
    (Retired from the GC June 2012)

  4. Jean is a hero in international critical education. Her warm-hearted, clear-headed reputation as an outstanding scholar and wonderful care-giving human being spans the globe. We were lucky to have her among us.
    Joan Greenbaum

  5. Tony, Thank you for this on Jean. Jean and I were close friends here in Deposit and Cadosia, her second home. I was her gardening partner and put a small English garden at her home here, something she admitted to knowing nothing about, but she was able to enjoy it for two summers and I want to add to it in her memory if Jesse decided to keep the house. She was such a truly remarkable woman and I will miss her immensely as I am certain the academic community will. We are working on a small obituary for the local paper here. I know she did not have a lot of friends in the area but I think many people did know her from her involvment in town. Many did not know she was ill and I am sure they will mourn her passing as well.