We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of our distinguished colleague and friend Professor Emeritus Ezekiel Kalipeni, who died in Malawi on Saturday, April 11th from heart-related problems less than a year after his retirement from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Kalipeni joined the department in 1994 as assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in 2008. He served as Interim Director of the Center for African Studies in 2001-2002 and as a Director of the National Science Foundation’s Geography and Spatial Sciences Program from 2009-2011. For many years he single-handedly edited the African Geographical Review.
Dr. Kalipeni gained an international reputation for his mapping and spatial analysis of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. This work grew from extended periods of field research in southern Africa where he examined the demographic, cultural, political, and geographic contexts of the disease and its diffusion. In 2014, he was awarded the Kwado-Konadu-Agyemang Distinguished Scholar in African Geography Award from the AAG African Specialty Group.
He taught Geography 101—Global Development & Environment for many years and will be remembered for introducing computer mapping skills to hundreds of students every semester. He also regularly taught Cities of the World, Population Geography, and Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the department’s few regional courses.
Over the years, Dr. Kalipeni maintained strong research and mentoring relations with the University of Malawi where he began his teaching career in 1986-88. Upon retirement, he donated his personal library of nearly 2,000 volumes to the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
Ezekiel will be laid to rest in Malawi but the details remain unclear given the difficulty of travel and gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic.