Schama Considering Columbia Offer

Wife Offered Tenured Position; Couple May Make 'Joint Move' to New York City

Mellon Professor of the Social Sciences Simon M. Schama is considering a tenure offer from Columbia University's history and art history departments, he and Tufts Medical School associate professor Virginia E. Papaioannou confirmed yesterday.

Papaioannou, Schama's wife, was offered a tenured position at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons more than a year ago. She said she and her husband are considering a "joint move" to New York City.

"It's a considerable career move for me," said Papaiannou, who is associate professor of pathology at Tufts. "For him it will be more than just a lateral move."

Papaioannou said that although commuting between New York City and Boston is always a possibility, neither she nor her husband would be happy with this solution because of family reasons.

Papaioannou and Schama both said they were not asked to make a decision by a given date, and that they are both still negotiating with their respective universities.


"They're [Columbia] anxious to have us," said Papaioannou, who added that her husband had begun looking for possible positions in New York when she had received the Columbia offer, which was extended to her over a year ago.

But soon after, Columbia made Schama an offer that was "clearly compatible" to the position he has at Harvard, she said.

When tenure offers are made to spouses of other academics, universities often search for positions for spouses on their own faculties or at other universities.

But Papioannou said Columbia was clearly eager to lure Schama to their faculty.

"In this case, there's probably little question," said Papaioannou. "He's eminently qualified."

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles, who said he is not only a colleague but also a friend of Schama's, said yesterday he would be very upset if the two professors left their current positions.

"I do know that Professor Schama has a splendid offer," said Knowles. "I, along with a large number of other people, would be very sad if they were to leave the area."

Were Schama to leave, the history department would lose one of its most versatile professors, several history department professors said yesterday.

"[Schama] is a man you can't pin down in terms of field," said Trumbull Professor of American History Donald H. Fleming. "Replacing him would be outof the question because his range is so wide."

"He would describe himself as a culturalhistorian," said McLean Professor of Ancient andModern History Steven Ozment. "But he has thelanguage skills and imagination to take ondifferent cultures."

Ozment said Schama's departure would have"tremendous impact."

Not only is he a popular lecturer and "one offour or five best-known historians in the world,"Ozment said, but a large number of graduatestudents are writing dissertations under hisdirection.

Ozment said that he is not familiar with theColumbia offer, but would not be surprised ifSchama received a prestigious Universityprofessorship there. "He is bigger than Harvard'shistory department," Ozment said. "He will be muchbigger at Columbia."

Schama, known for his narrative approach toteaching and writing history, said last night heis currently concentrating on environmentalhistory and would continue this work at Harvard orColumbia

Recommended Articles