Tributes poured in on Friday following news of the death of Ronald Sultana, a professor of sociology at the University of Malta.

Sultana died aged 65.

The founding editor of the Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies, Sultana was considered one of Malta’s eminent scholars in the field of sociology and a leading voice in educational sociology across the Mediterranean.

Sultana was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University and received several awards for his work throughout an illustrious career, including an honorary doctorate from the Université Laval in Québec, Canada for his contributions to the field.

He founded the Movement for Humanistic Education in 1988 and the Association of School Councils almost a decade later, before being elected dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta in 1997. He later became the director of the Euro-Mediterranean Centre for Educational Research.

His 1994 book Maltese Society: A Sociological Inquiry, co-edited with fellow sociologist Godfrey Baldacchino would go on to become a staple text for a generation of students in the field of sociology.

Writing on Facebook, University of Malta pro-rector Carmen Sammut said that “the University lost one of the pillars of the Faculty of Education, we lost a respected colleague, researcher and critical friend”.

Writer Immanuel Mifsud, once a student of Sultana’s, described him as a “mentor” and “the inspiration for many ideas that I have held”, fondly recalling how Sultana had first introduced himself to his class as a Marxist.

Several other scholars had similar words of praise for Sultana. Maria Pisani described him as “a giant of a scholar”, while sociologist Peter Mayo said Sultana “did much to advance educational Sociology, guidance and counselling and Mediterranean comparative education worldwide” adding that the world of sociology “is a poorer place without Ronald”.

Several political figures also paid tribute to Sultana, including former Education Minister Evarist Bartolo as well as current Minister Clifton Grima, who both thanked him for his contribution to the field over the years.

PN education spokesperson Justin Schembri also paid tribute to Sultana, recalling how the professor had attended parliament on his invitation last year as MPs debating budget estimates for the education sector. 

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