In Memoriam: David E. Lavin

David E. Lavin, professor emeritus of sociology, died on March 14. He came to the Graduate Center and Lehman College in the early 1970s, after ten years at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. A dedicated member of the doctoral faculty in sociology, Lavin “taught courses on the sociology of education and supervised a number of dissertations,” said his colleague, Distinguished Professor Paul Attewell. Beyond sociology, he was interested in music, traveling the world, and spending time with his family.

Lavin retired in 2011 after a forty-year career at the Graduate Center. Many of his research projects focused on the historic shift in access to CUNY, known as Open Admissions. He coauthored a series of books and articles on the subject of enrollment, including Changing the Odds (Yale University Press, 1996); and in 2009, he and Attewell received the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Education from the American Education Research Association for their book Passing the Torch: Does Higher Education for the Disadvantaged Pay Off Across the Generations? (Russell Sage Foundation, 2009). Lavin’s scholarly pursuits were generously supported by such organizations as the Exxon Education Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

His joie de vivre was felt by those he knew, and he “generously bestowed upon us opportunities to develop our careers and also our lives,” said Richard Alba, distinguished professor of sociology. “He possessed a deep-felt commitment to social justice and doing good in the world . . . it may not have even been so much a conscious intent as something bred into his bones.” 

Submitted on: APR 5, 2013

Category: General GC News