Home > Dr. Marilyn Gittell: Activist-Scholar

Dr. Marilyn Gittell: Activist-Scholar


Dr. Marilyn Jacobs Gittell (1931–2010) was an NYC scholar-activist fiercely committed to racial, gender, and educational justice, and especially known for her dedication to public school reform and community control. Joining with the black resistance movements of the 1960s, this work was epitomized by the “Ocean-Hill Brownsville controversy” – a Brooklyn-based social experiment that moved control of schools to the communities of black and Puerto Rican urban poor whom they served.

After earning her doctorate from New York University she taught and served in various capacties in the CUNY system throughout her esteemed academic career.  Marilyn began her career in 1960 as a professor in the Political Science Department at Queens College where she taught until she founded the Urban Studies department in 1971.   She served as Chairperson of the Department of Urban Studies at Queens College from 1971-1973, where she founded the Institute for Community Studies. She was promoted to Associate Provost and Assistant Vice President of Brooklyn College (1973-78)-- at he time the highest ranking woman at Brooklyn College. And moved to the Gradte Center to teach in the Political Science Department in 1978 where she taught and directed the Howard Samuels Center, from 1988 until her death in 2010.

Throughout her celebrated career, Marilyn received many awards including, in 2001, the Norton Long Career Achievement Award for "distinguished contributions to the study of urban politics over the course of a career through scholarly publication, the mentoring of students, and public service”; in 1988, the American Library Association Award for Choosing Equality:The Case for Democratic Schooling; and in 1978, she was designated one of CHANGE Magazine’s 100 Academic Leaders in the U.S..

For additional information: Click here for Marilyn's full biography and abbreviated c.v. or here for a more extensive list of her work.