What impressed me most about Chuck in the five years I worked, studied, and absorbed at the New School’s Center for Studies of Social Change (CSSC) was Chuck’s “open door” policy. He was always ready to suspend the topic of his own concentration to help students with their big challenges, epiphanies, or problems they were encountering at any given moment. I seek to emulate this style to the extent possible in my own teaching and mentoring.
Personally, I thank Chuck for introducing me to Franzosi’s “words to numbers,” which suddenly clarified how to proceed methodologically in my Cuban revolution research, and for the related opportunity to observe how the many working papers produced at CSSC were transformed into Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758-1834. The sacrifices and gestures made by Chuck for his students also affected significantly the course of my own research.
When I was having what seemed like interminable problems getting official permission in 1993 to carry out dissertation interviews as well as archival research in Cuba, Chuck received an invitation to speak at the University of Havana. When I suggested it might help me get the authorization I needed, he actually took the time to make a short trip to Havana, where he spoke to a packed auditorium at the University’s largest auditorium. The Cuban scholars were honored to have Charles Tilly, and I think Chuck enjoyed the chance to meet for the first time with Cuban colleagues who were familiar with his work. At the end of his visit, I was granted permission for interview research, and the university arranged for research assistants to do their sociological research practicum entering data from the archives with me.
Many others, especially international students, report similar special assistance.
I am very grateful to have had a good talk with Chuck not long before he entered the last super-powered therapy, and I close my abbreviated shared memories with an appeal that we all seek to emulate his: sense of humanity and caring for his students; eagerness to pass along his strengths and skills as a scholar and collaborator; help that allowed us to jump the hurdles, rather than making them more difficult; and his policy of the open door for students who got equal time with high-ranking colleagues.
Eloise Linger (Ph.D. 1999, New School)
SUNY College of Old Westbury