Petition: Academics in Support of Kim Hopper

Academics in Support of Professor Kim Hopper

To: Lee C. Bollinger, President
Seth Low Professor of the University
Columbia University

John H. Coatsworth, Provost
Professor of International and Public Affairs Professor of History
Columbia University

Dear President Bollinger and Provost Coatsworth,

We are a diverse group of scholars and university faculty who recognize Dr. Kim Hopper, a Professor in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences, as an eminent colleague and pathbreaking scholar.  He has made indelible contributions to the fields of anthropology, mental health services research, epidemiology, psychiatry, global public mental health, and research methodology.  As colleagues of Dr. Kim Hopper, we are astonished that the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University issued him a letter of “non-renewal” effective July 2014 after 26 years of teaching and research on the Columbia faculty, having supervised hundreds of Columbia graduate students and served on over two dozen dissertation committees.  He has supported countless students and post-doctoral scholars from sources that range from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the New York State Department of Health, the World Health Organization, and the New York City Department of Health.  We urge you to review and reconsider this decision.

Dr. Hopper’s meticulous work has informed and shaped research and policy in homelessness and mental health services in the United States and globally.  His scholarship has had a profound impact on the fields of medical and psychiatric anthropology, mental health services research, epidemiology, public policy and public health.  It has inspired two generations of anthropologists, psychiatrists, epidemiologists, and mental health services professionals and researchers to better serve the public.

Dr. Hopper is considered an expert in understanding the complex experiences and needs of people who are homeless and in providing suggestions and solutions to stop homelessness.  He was one of the first researchers to go beneath the streets of New York, to create a census of the uncounted homeless people who tried to make homes there.  His extensive fieldwork and publications since have illuminated mental health services and addictions services, establishing “best practices,” including outpatient commitment, psychiatric advance directives, assertive community treatment, and the capabilities approach in human services.  His 2003 book, Reckoning with Homelessness (Cornell University Press), is considered essential reading in this field.  Often considered a “hidden population,” in New York City, there is no other researcher who knows more about the sources and potential solutions to homelessness than Dr. Hopper

Dr. Hopper also made major scholarly contributions to the field of global mental health through his analysis of variations in schizophrenia outcomes found in three decades of World Health Organization studies.  His 2007 book, Recovery from Schizophrenia—An International Perspective (co-authored with Glynn Harrison, Aleksandar Janca, Norman Sartorius, and published by Oxford University Press), has been central in discussions of   psychosis on a global scale and has highlighted the importance of social inequality in mental health risk and outcomes.  This approach is fueling the study of epigenetics in psychiatry and in strategizing for prevention of psychosis.

Dr. Hopper’s innovation in research and analysis methodology is substantial.  Three decades ago, he called for a more critical epidemiology and questioned how “cases” were constructed and for an interrogation of the  “black box” of culture.  Dr. Hopper contributed to the growth of community-based participatory research and supported the inclusion of users of mental health services.  To this end, Dr. Hopper led an NIMH-funded field school to train users of mental health services in how to conduct, analyze, and report research, which is currently in process.

Dr. Hopper has a prominent national and international profile.  He has served as the President of the National Coalition of the Homeless, on the Board of Directors for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and the Governor’s Task Force on Housing the Homeless in New York State.  He spent ten years as a reviewer for the National Institute of Mental Health.  He has been on the Editorial Board of Medical Anthropology Quarterly and a manuscript reviewer for a diverse range of publications, including Psychiatric Services, Human Organization, and Transcultural Psychiatry, as well as the University of California Press, Cornell University Press, Rutgers University Press, and Vanderbilt University Press.  And he is often at the table to help the New York State Office of Mental Health plan innovative programs to better serve people with psychiatric disabilities.  The field has been changed thanks to his passionate commitment to serve the destitute in New York City.

Kim Hopper’s contributions to our field are unique and highly respected.  He is deeply committed to his students, as is evident in the number of students he has mentored, and the outspoken support his former students give him.  We strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision, as it will have a negative impact on your university, your students, and the scholarly and research endeavors of our broader intellectual community.


(List in progress):
[NOTE: To sign the petition, enter your name and title in the ‘name’ field, and your academic affiliation and any additional comments in the ‘comment’ field. Titles and affiliations will be noted as “for identification purposes only.”]


Sue E. Estroff, PhD

Professor of Social Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry

University of North Carolina School of Medicine


Tanya Luhrmann, PhD

Watkins Professor of Anthropology

Stanford University


Helena Hansen, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Psychiatry

New York University


Neely Myers, PhD

Assistant Research Professor

George Washington University


Paul E. Farmer, MD, PhD

Kolokotrones University Professor

Chair of Global Health and Social Medicine

Harvard Medical School


Nancy Scheper-Hughes, PhD

Professor of Anthropology

University of California, Berkeley


Marcia Inhorn, PhD

William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor, Anthropology and International Affairs

Yale University


Gil Eyal, PhD

Professor of Sociology

Columbia University


Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, MD

Professor of Psychiatry

Columbia University Medical Center

Director, NYS Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence and Hispanic Treatment Program

New York State Psychiatric Institute


Bruce Dohrenwend, PhD

Professor of Social Science, Department of Psychiatry

Professor of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health

Columbia University

Chief of Research, Division of Social Psychiatry

N.Y. State Psychiatric Institute


Lesley Sharp, PhD

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Anthropology

Barnard College


Arthur Kleinman, MD

Rabb Professor of Anthropology

Professor of Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry

Harvard Medical School


Byron Good, PhD

Professor of Medical Anthropology, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine

Harvard University


Vikram Patel, MRCPsych, PhD, FMedSci

Professor of International Mental Health & Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


Rayna Rapp, PhD

Professor and Associate Chair of Anthropology

New York University


Emily Martin, PhD

Professor of Anthropology, New York University

Director of the Institute for the History of Production of Knowledge

New York University


Faye Ginsberg, PhD

Kriser Professor of Anthropology

New York University


Fred Meyers, PhD

Silver Professor of Anthropology

New York University


Deborah Padgett, PhD

Professor of Social Work and Global Public Health, Silver School of Social Work and Global Institute of Public Health

New York University


Thomas Abercrombie, PhD

Associate Professor of Anthropology

New York University


Sharon Kaufman, PhD

Chair, Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine

University of California, San Francisco


Vincanne Adams, PhD

Professor and Vice-Chair of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine

University of California, San Francisco


Ian Whitmarsh, PhD

Associate Professor, Director of Medical Anthropology Ph.D. Program, Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine

University of California, San Francisco


Laurence Kirmayer, MD

James McGill Professor & Director, Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry

McGill University


Ellen Corin, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology

McGill University


Mitchell Duneier, PhD

Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology

Princeton University


Janis H. Jenkins, PhD

Professor of Anthropology; Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry

University of California, San Diego


Lorna Rhodes, PhD

Emeritus Professor of Anthropology

University of Washington


Dagmar Herzog, PhD

Distinguished Professor of History

Graduate Center, City University of New York


John Barnhill, MD

Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Public Health

Weill Cornell Medical College


Seth Holmes, MD, PhD

Martin Sisters Endowed Chair Assistant Professor of Public Health and Medical Anthropology

University of California, Berkeley


Elizabeth Bromley, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor in Residence, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

University of California, Los Angeles


Lisa Wexler, PhD, MSW

Division Director for Community Health Studies; Associate Professor in Community Health Education, Department of Public Health; School of Public Health and Health Sciences

University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Rebecca Lester, PhD, LCSW

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Washington University in St. Louis


83 thoughts on “Petition: Academics in Support of Kim Hopper

  1. Additional signatures

    Philip Yanos, PhD
    Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    City University of New York

    Jim Baumohl, PhD
    Professor of Social Work and Social Research
    Bryn Mawr College

    Mary E. Woolley
    Professor of Anthropology
    Mount Holyoke College

    Judith L.M. McCoyd, PhD
    Associate Professor of Social Work
    Rutgers University

    Sanford Schram
    Political Science and Public Policy
    Hunter College, CUNY

    Vicki Lens, JD, PhD
    Associate Professor, School of Social Work
    Columbia University

    Elizabeth Pescosolido, PhD
    Director, Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research
    Distinguished Professor of Sociology
    Indiana University

    David Crawford, Professor, Sociology and Anthropology
    Fairfield University

    Hillary Jeanne Haldane,
    Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Director of Anthropology
    Quinnipiac College

    Nadia Islam
    Assistant Professor of Population Health
    NYU Medical Center

    Simona C. Kwon, DrPH, MPH
    Assistant Professor
    NYU School of Medicine

    Pardis Mahdavi, PhD
    Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology
    Pomona College

    Alex Cohen
    Senior Lecturer in International Mental Health
    London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

    Craig Morgan
    Senior Lecturer and Head, Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health
    Health Service and Population Research Department
    Institute of Psychiatry
    King’s College London

  2. I am so sad and outraged to hear about this decision. I graduated from the MPH program in 2010 in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences. I enjoyed Professor Hopper’s qualitative methods class that I took as a master’s student at Mailman. He also lectured in the core sociomedical sciences class. He was an engaging, extremely intelligent, kind and overall excellent professor who challenged his students and talked about a lot of his own research with the homeless. I currently work in qualitative research and am applying to medical school. There is no way I would have gotten my current position or have been able to do it without the skills that he taught me in his qualitative methods class. This decision is very upsetting and I hope something will be done immediately.

  3. I was shocked and saddened to learn about the firing of Kim Hopper. I urge Columbia University to reverse the decision and review their guidelines for according merit and employment status to non-tenure faculty.

  4. Ken MacLeish
    Assistant Professor
    Center for Medicine, Health and Society and Department of Anthropology
    Vanderbilt University

  5. Sara M. Bergstresser

    I was a postdoctoral trainee at Mailman, and Kim Hopper has been an excellent mentor and teacher. It will be a much poorer place intellectually without him – and I think it is important not to devalue intellectual riches. Dollars are not the only thing with value.

  6. I was lucky to meet Kim Hopper at a Mad Positive in the Academy symposium convened at Ryerson University, Toronto. This was an exremely interesting and collegiate event involving a collective of scholars and community and trade union activists interested in the social position of service users and survivors of mental health services and the creative possibilities of alliances in the pursuit of community, workplace and research objectives. it is absolutley shameful that crtical and student centred scholars are being forced out of academia at a time when we have never needed them more.

  7. MIA/MPH, SIPA/Mailman, Columbia
    PhD Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan

    A dynamic and inspiring professor and an important advocate for the rights of the homeless and other marginalized groups.

  8. Public Psychiatry Fellow at Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute

    Psychiatrist 2 at Rockland Psychiatric Center

    Executive Vice President
    Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare

  9. Public Psychiatry Fellowship, NYS Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University

    I join the petition to support Carole Vance and Kim Hopper. As a public psychiatrist interested in using mental health to work against inequality, racism and poverty, it is shameful and enraging to see that profiting from research is more important for the institution than excellence in education. The work of Kim Hooper has been an inspiration to work with the homeless. These are extraordinary professors who have inspired many intellectuals to work for a better country. They are more than qualified to retain their positions. I hope this decision is revoked.

  10. Prof. Vivek (Vik) Kanwar
    Associate Professor of Law, Jindal Global Law School (JGLS)
    Executive Director, Centre on Public Law and Jurisprudence (CPLJ)
    O.P. Jindal Global University
    Sonipat, Haryana, 131 001
    NCR of Delhi, India

  11. The ability to study public health and social justice issues with professors like Kim Hopper and Carole Vance is the reason that people choose Mailman over other schools of public health. Letting them go is Columbia’s shameful loss.

  12. I support Kim Hopper and Carole Vance, they are academic intellectuals who the heart beat of the society they lived in.

    Wan Manan
    Professor of Nutrition and Public Health
    School of Health Sciences
    Universiti Sains Malaysia
    16150 Kubang Kerian
    Kelantan, MALAYSIA

  13. Assistant Professor, Division of Internal Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, & Portland VA Medical Center

    Dr Hopper’s work is intellectually brave as well as socially committed, and he has contributed tremendously to the field.

  14. Postdoctoral Fellow, Behavioral Science Training in Drug Abuse Research Program
    National Development and Research Institutes
    New York City

  15. Assistant Professor, Psychiatry
    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
    Public Psychiatry Fellow
    NYSPI/Columbia University

  16. Professor and Head
    Department of Biobehavioral Health & Population Sciences
    University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus

  17. We need to stand up to make sure we can do good quality research and ensure knowledge is shared and used by all who can benefit from it

  18. Silke Heumann, Assistant Professor, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam

  19. This is awful. Kim Hopper is an outstanding scholar whose work directly engages with important mental health policy issues. In fact, I am in India now doing a Fulbright-sponsored research project that was inspired by Prof. Hopper’s pioneering research on recovery from schizophrenia.

  20. Katherine Tamminen, PhD
    Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education
    University of Toronto
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  21. Laura E. Jones
    Senior Researcher
    Theoretical Ecology & Mathematical Biology
    Cornell University
    Ithaca, New York

  22. Kim Hopper has been a beacon in the dark sky of mental health advocacy and research. Most folks know him for his work on homelessness, but I have had the privilege of engaging with him around broader issues affecting the lives of individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness. Enabling the articulation of many disenfranchised voices, he has offered extremely erudite and stimulating analyses of the problems at hand. Recently, we have collaborating on the establishment of one of the more innovative mental health intervention of our time – Parachute NYC. Without his intimate involvement, this $ 19 million federal grant would never have reached New York City. Columbia University is foolish and short-sighted in its decision to let this eminent scholar and foremost advocate go.

    Peter Stastny MD
    Consultant Psychiatrist
    New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University
    formerly Associate Professor of Psychiatry
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine

  23. I am retired from teaching High School English, and I am shocked! Not only should Columbia re-instate Dr. Kim Hopper, but he should be given long overdue tenure! My respect for Columbia U. is gone! How crass to value money beyond scholastic excellence! This is what’s wrong in our Universities today, and why I applaud investigative reporting in The Nation.

  24. Beth Angell
    Associate Professor
    Rutgers University School of Social Work and Institute for Health,
    Health Care Policy, and Aging Research

  25. Columbia University Club of Chicago (SIPA)
    Senior Editor, Business, Economics, and Finance
    ABC-CLIO | Praeger | Greenwood
    Santa Barbara, CA

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