The Edwin A. Gere, Jr. Scholarship for the Study of State and Local Government was established by Steve Etkin ’81 in honor of Political Science Professor Emeritus Ed Gere, an outstanding professor of public administration and state and urban politics and a heroic pilot in WWII and the Berlin Airlift. It recognizes students with academic and professional interests in state and local government and politics. Students who wish to intern abroad in order to learn about state and local governments of other countries are welcome to apply.
Edwin Gere was born and lived in Elmira, New York through high school graduation in 1941. He then enrolled at Alfred University and remained there until early 1943 when he was called to active duty in the then Army Air Corps. He completed aviation cadet training in 1944, following which he served as a B-24 pilot in the Pacific theater of operations, flying wartime missions against Japan. With the war's end he returned to Alfred, graduating in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in history and political science. Almost immediately thereafter he was recalled to active duty by President Harry S Truman to participate in the Berlin Airlift, often called the "greatest humanitarian effort in modern history." As a C-54 pilot, Lieutenant Gere flew 184 round trip missions to Berlin and later served as an operations officer at Tempelhof air base in Berlin.
Returning to stateside military duty following the airlift, Gere earned a graduate diploma in international relations at Georgetown University, then left active duty to earn a master's degree in political science from The Pennsylvania State University, and thereafter a PhD degree in political science from The State University of New York at Albany. Following two years at the University of Connecticut, he joined the UMass faculty in 1957, serving first in the UM Bureau of Government Research and moving later to the Political Science Department. He remained at UMass until retirement in 1990, reaching the rank of professor in the process.
During his 35 years of teaching he published more than 70 books and articles and taught courses on state, urban, and metro politics, intergovernmental relations, comparative urban politics, and urban law. During this time he was awarded a Legislative Service Fellowship by the American Political Science Association, also held membership in APSA, the American Society for Public Administration, the Massachusetts chapter of ASPA, of which he was a founding member, the New England Political Science Association, the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration, the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration, and the national political science society Pi Sigma Alpha. In 1986 he spent a sabbatical leave at the Post-Graduate School of Administrative Sciences in Speyer, Germany, carrying out extensive research on urban politics in that country and England. He returned to UMass and a year later served as Director of the Master of Public Administration program until his 1990 retirement.
Outside of academia Professor Gere has participated frequently in federal, state, and local politics. He served on the Leverett, Mass. Board of Selectmen from 1961-1965, and as town meeting moderator for 22 years from 1971-1993. He has been an advisor to numerous Massachusetts cities and towns, particularly on the topic of home rule, and has served also as an advisor to the US Census Bureau and the Secretary of State's office in Massachusetts.
In retirement Professor Gere remained active in academic affairs, participating in IASIA international conferences in Australia, England, Italy, Sabah (Borneo), the United States, Austria, Morocco, and Tunisia. In veterans' affairs he has attended the 40th, 50th, and 60th airlift anniversary ceremonies in western Germany and Berlin. In 2008 he was in a small group of airlift veterans invited to attend the annual European International Air Show, held that year at Berlin's Schoenefeld Airport. On that occasion the group met with German Chancellor Angela MerkeI and the then U.S. ambassador to Germany, William Tinken. In 2009 he was a guest of Vice-President Joseph Biden and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley at a White House ceremony to honor airlift veterans. In that year he also represented the 600 men and women of the Berlin Airlift Veterans Association on its 60th airlift anniversary at ceremonies in Stuttgart and Berlin and was presented with silver medallions from the Mayors of the two cities. In Stuttgart, Army General William "Kip" Ward, commanding general of Africom, also presented Gere with his personal four star medallion. In 2002 Gere published The Unheralded: Men and Women of the Berlin Blockade and Airlift, a book which he wrote "for love and sheer pleasure, out of heartfelt need." He was also a principle subject in journalist Richard Reeves' 2010 history of the Berlin Airlift, Daring Young Men.
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Students must demonstrate an academic and professional interest in state and local government and politics. Students who wish to intern abroad in order to learn about state and local governments in other countries are welcome to apply.