University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Luther Allen Scholarship

The Luther A. Allen Scholarship is named in honor of Political Science Emeritus Professor Luther A. Allen, who taught at UMass from 1952 until his retirement in 1985. It supports undergraduate students in good academic standing with demonstrated interests in international relations and Francophile studies, including French-speaking nations and/or provinces.

Luther A. Allen, born 1921, died Feb. 27, 1998, was a good political scientist; more important, he was a good person, whose presence enriched a host of students and friends. Born in Plattsburgh, New York, he was educated at Williams College, Iowa State University, and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in international relations. He first visited Europe in 1939 with a student travel association, confirming his intention to devote his life to the study and teaching of international relations. He served in the armed forces during World War II in England and France, where, an unlikely enlisted man, he struck up friendships with such figures as Noel Brailsford and Jacques (Duchamp) Villon. He joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1952, retired in 1985, and moved to Montreal, Quebec, where he died suddenly while swimming.

At the University of Massachusetts he played a major role in the department's undergraduate program, organized and moderated public radio broadcasts of the "Great Decisions" program for years, and lived as Professor in Residence in the Orchard Hill residential education program (1964-85), which he helped shape into a real living/learning environment. In 1985 he was awarded a University Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Service as "scholar, educator, and mentor." Throughout his career he had a special interest in French politics and visited France regularly. In 1944 the young soldier wrote home: "I arrive in Paris. What a city! What  color and vitality. So urban, modern, beautiful.... I am so anxious to get out and take it all in." And indeed he did over the next fifty years. These visits fed not only his interest in French politics, but his love of the language and of cathedrals (an aesthetic rather than a religious passion).

At the time of his death, he had just returned, full of enthusiasm, from a trip to Paris. To his sensitive love of architecture and art was joined a love of music that he himself called "obsessive." Flowing from his knowledge of France and international politics, in the late 1950s and early 1960s he closely followed Vietnamese affairs and was visiting professor at Saigon University, Vietnam. He was involved in efforts there and in the U.S. to build a liberal democratic regime. Failed efforts, he recognized.

After retirement he was active in Montreal politics of planning, and published essays on new towns and urban planning. He championed preservation of the Mount Royal Park and, at the time of his death, was preparing a study on the work of Frederick Law Olmstead. He was a sympathiser with Francophone political efforts, though always the astute political commentator who could chuckle at anyone's foolish excesses. His phone answering machine spoke first its "Bonjour" message, then its equally warm welcome of "Hi, Anglos!"

In May 1998, a memorial service was held on campus, with family, friends, colleagues, students, and a student string quartet (which we believe would specially have pleased him). Jean Elshtain affectionately wrote: "Luther was the gentlest of men and a sprite in the form of an academician." The occasion  formally ended: "remembering in awe, in joy and sorrow, a good man's rich and other-enriching life. We shall never again know such a one as Luther." 

This biography is from Lewis C. Maizner (1999). “In Memoriam: Luther A. Allen.” PS: Political Science and Politics, 32(1): 120.

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Eligibility - Other: 

Must be in good 
academic standing with demonstrated interest in international relations and/or Francophile 
studies, including French-speaking nations and/or provinces.


March 10, 2017


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