Saturday, July 6, 2013

Big Loss at UCSD

Ellen Comisso died this weekend.  While she was not on my dissertation committee (my work on Eastern Europe developed after grad school), I took one of her courses.  She impressed me with not just her deep knowledge of a part of the world that was in the midst of dramatic change, but with her intense intellect, her passion for the work, and her interest in the graduate students.  Her views long informed my work as I eventually felt the gravitational pull of the region that was the focus of her work.

Phil Roeder, who is now chair at UCSD and had much in common with Ellen given their regional interests, send this to UCSD folks:
Dear colleagues,

It is with a sad heart that I share with you the news that our dear colleague Ellen Comisso has died. Those of us who were fortunate to know Ellen over the years will profoundly miss her.

The little information available at this time is available in the news reports:

It is difficult to summarize in a few words the complexities and richness of any life. This is even more true when reflecting on the ways that Ellen touched so many of us. I will remember Ellen first of all for her caring and sweetness. (I am fairly certain that Ellen would not have wanted me to call her “sweet.” I apologize, Ellen, but it was true.) Ellen cared deeply about justice, ethics, Eastern European political economy, her classes, her students, and—most importantly—her family. I will also remember Ellen for her strength. (I think Ellen would have approved of this remembrance.) Early in her career this strength was expressed through feisty partisanship for social justice. More recently we saw this strength in her continuing deep commitment to her teaching and her students even as the demands of caring for her own health and for her beloved husband grew.

With deep respect,
My heart goes out to her family and to the folks at UCSD.  Ellen was a force of nature and a force for good.  She will be missed.

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