Condolence Notice — Dr. Gülden Özcan

This notice is from the archives of The Notice Board. Information contained in this notice was accurate at the time of publication but may no longer be so.

The University of Lethbridge expresses its sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and students of Dr. Gülden Özcan, who passed away on Wednesday, May 11.

Originally from Turkey, Özcan completed a BA at Baskent University and an MA and PhD at Carleton University. She joined ULethbridge in 2018 as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. During her short time as a faculty member, Özcan distinguished herself as a tireless and unwavering leader who was dedicated to scholarly activism. Her work included involvement in radical theatre, with Scholars at Risk and in critical police studies. Özcan also worked at challenging and disrupting systemic and social injustice issues on campus. She was the first ever recipient of the SNAC+ (Support Network for Academics of Colour Plus) Excellence in Equity Award in January of this year. In addition, Özcan was an active member of the Equity subcommittee of the Canadian Sociological Association.

Dr. Matthew Letts, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, penned the following message:

Dear colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I share with you the loss of our esteemed colleague, Dr. Gülden Özcan. The impact that Dr. Özcan left on the University of Lethbridge so early in her career in the Department of Sociology is extraordinary. Let us ensure that Gülden’s talented research, teaching and service contributions continue to influence and motivate us in the coming years.

From the time of her arrival at ULethbridge in July 2018, Gülden was a prominent leader in grassroots groups that place equity, diversity and inclusion at the centre of their activities. A founding member of SNAC+, she made critical contributions to the Rights, Equity and Diversity (RED) Program, contributed meaningfully to discussion groups on campus promoting Women’s Scholars and promoted collaboration among these groups with the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association's Gender, Equity & Diversity and Joint Equity committees. For these efforts, Dr. Özcan was awarded the 2021 Equity Excellence Award.

Both as a scholar and in the practice of advocacy, Gülden passionately raised awareness in our University community and beyond of the urgent action needed for scholars who are in jeopardy simply on the basis of their views, in places like Turkey and Iran. She accomplished this through a network of connections with the Scholars-at-Risk Program.

Dr. Özcan was also involved in ensuring University of Lethbridge involvement as a partner in the National Dialogues and Action for Inclusive Higher Education, committing the University to working towards anti-Black racism. She regularly took part in promoting actions to protest anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and to uphold the rights of all marginalised groups and scholars.

Every aspect of Gulden’s renowned research program meaningfully advanced EDI.  Her recent work entailed a feminist analysis of the effects of neoliberal authoritarianism and national security discourse on academic knowledge production processes. A critical examination of the case of Turkish academics in exile formed the basis of this analysis.

In addition to outstanding scholarship and a deep understanding of the service role of the University in society, Gülden was a great teacher.  One example of this was the new course she created, entitled Applied Sociology: Academic Freedom Advocacy Seminar.  In designing this course, she optimized the student experience by connecting with the international Scholars at Risk network.  Gülden took the time to purposefully incorporate anti-racist and anti-oppressive strategies to build communities of learners in the classroom and to apply an anti-hierarchical approach to graduate mentorship.

Gülden carried out her work with professionalism, integrity and bold conviction. She excelled in all aspects of what we, as academics, could possibly aspire: excellence in teaching, research and service to society. Her academic approach and untimely passing will be a lasting inspiration to all of us. We must continue her work in advancing courageous discussions, inspiring the next generation of students and working towards just societies.

Dr. Özcan leaves behind her loving partner Özgür and her beautiful son Ekim.

Instead of flowers, you may donate and/or leave a message to the family at the following sites:






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