Fascinating .. it closed in 1981, according to Simon Potter, for the following reasons:|
As specialization set in after the Second World War, it became common for academic geographers to be either a human geographer or a physical geographer and seemingly to demonstrate greater commitment to narrow research themes than to a disciplinary core that would unifythe two major branches. Certainly by the 1980s academics were identifying themselves according to their specialties, and it seemed that an economic or a social geographer was not expected to know much about, say, climates and soils, while a geomorphologist or a biogeographer (humans excluded from this “bio”) was similarly presumed ignorant of the likes of political or urban geography. At this juncture, it is possible that the problem was that no great, broadsweeping theories were in the offing,and since a tremendous lot was already known and/or interpreted about the world, the main direction of cutting-edge scholarship lay in such narrowness. To a large extent because of this, and perhaps stagnant careerism inside the discipline, the decision in 1981 to discontinue the department of geography at the University of Michigan seems to have triggered profound anxiety among geographers in the United States. It seems to have been reasoned that if nongeographers could not see the point of a discipline with weak cohesion and no apparent mission, geography would eventually be eliminated from the mainstream academy.
"Another Closing Frontier?: Observations on Geography in American Academe" by Simon R Potter
The Japanese Jurnal of American Studies, No. 13 (2002)