Passings: Professor Emerita Evelyn Kallen

A field of flowers at sunset

Long-serving faculty member and human rights activist, Professor Emerita Evelyn Kallen, died on Feb. 5 at the age of 93.

Evelyn Kallen
Evelyn Kallen

Kallen served York University for 21 years, first coming to York in 1970 as an assistant professor in the Division of Social Sciences. She gained tenure in 1974 as an associate professor, and from 1984 to 1991 served as full professor in social science and anthropology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS).

In 1989, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She also served as honorary Chair of the Human Rights Research & Education Centre at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law from 1989 to 1990. In 1991, she retired from York as a Senior Scholar but continued to teach until 1995. In 2012, she was named a Distinguished Professor of Humans Rights at York’s Department of Equity Studies.

Kallen’s teaching, research and expertise in social science and anthropology spanned more than five decades with specific interest in social stratification, social change, social movements, race and ethnic relations, religion and ethnicity, ethnicity and identity, as well as racism, hate propaganda, multiculturalism, ethnic and non-ethnic minorities, human rights legislation, the charter and minority rights, human rights and public policy, and social issues including abortion and euthanasia. She also encouraged York’s foray in community engaged experiential education.

“In my many conversations with Evelyn, over the more than 40 years I was fortunate to have her as my primary mentor, I learned York University, in many ways, was home to Evelyn Kallen even after her retirement. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been mentored by the likes of Evelyn Kallen,” says LA&PS Professor Peter Dawson.

Kallen was the author of nine books, including her first work The Anatomy of Racism: Canadian Dimensions (with D. R. Hughes in 1974) and her recent work Social Inequality and Social Injustice: a human rights perspective (2004), as well as several articles, book chapters and papers.

Kallen’s humanitarian legacy will continue to have a profound impact through her visionary support of the Evelyn Kallen Distinguished Scholars in International Human Rights.

York University campus flags will be lowered to half staff in honour of Kallen on March 21, to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Cremation has taken place and a celebration of life gathering will be planned at York University on a future date. To make a gift in her memory at York, visit or call 416-650-8210.