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Passing of Lawrence Mamiya

Dear all,

It is with sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Lawrence Mamiya, Professor Emeritus of Religion and Africana Studies, on Tuesday, January 8 at his home in Hawaii.

Professor Mamiya was an inspiring presence on the Vassar faculty for nearly four decades, from 1975 until his retirement in 2014.  For 35 years, he was the guiding spirit behind Vassar’s prison education programs, a landmark in our College’s partnerships with the greater community.  These programs brought Vassar students and incarcerated men from nearby correctional facilities together to learn with each other.  These courses also inspired generations of Vassar students to pursue careers in prison reform, social justice, and law.

A former community organizer in Harlem and voting rights organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Georgia, Professor Mamiya was a strong advocate for Africana Studies at Vassar, and served for a time as director of the program.  A distinguished scholar of religion, he co-authored The Black Church in the African American Experience, which received the 1990 distinguished book award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. 

A memorial service is planned for later this year, with details to be announced. We extend our deepest sympathy to Professor Mamiya’s wife, May, and to their children.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604