Allan Kornberg, beloved professor emeritus, passed away

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Kornberg

The first day Allan Kornberg moved into his Duke University office in 1965, he brought his three young children with him, who immediately took to racing down the hallways. The noise brought out longtime political science Chairman Robert Rankin who demanded to know what was going on.

Kornberg's son replied, "That's my daddy's office."  Like father, like son, Allan is remembered to have an attracting personality.  "I'll miss his big laugh," remembers Emerson Niou.

After 43 years of service to the university, guiding the department in various scholarly and administrative ways, Allan Kornberg passed away, on July 31, 2018.  Georg Vanberg recounts his service, writing, "He was a prolific and distinguished scholar of legislatures, parties, and comparative political behavior. Allan served as the department’s chair from 1983 to 1992, and retired as the Norb F. Schaefer Professor of International Studies in 2008. From 1993-1995, he served as the first Director of the Division of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research of the National Science Foundation."  

Thomas Spragens remembers Allan to have guided the department to higher levels of national prominence.  "It was surprising to some when Allan was appointed as Chair of the Department, because he had the reputation of being something of a maverick; and he was never shy about speaking his mind, even if there were those who did not want to hear what he had to say. But he excelled in scholarship. He excelled in mentorship. And, as it turned out, he excelled in his academic leadership as well. Allan was fortunate in the timing of his chairmanship, in that the University was in an expansionary mode at the time. But the Department benefited enormously from his ability and determination to take full advantage of those circumstances to improve the Department and to enhance its national stature."

Allan Kornberg

Michael Gillespie and Peter Lange echo that sentiment, "As chair of the Political Science Department, Allan Kornberg led the transformation of the department  from an excellent regional program into a top ten nationally ranked program.  His colorful personality and forceful leadership style will never be forgotten by those who knew him." "Allan was a tremendous advocate for political science," Peter Lange writes, "and the proof was in the pudding; the department vastly improved under his leadership and became known for some of its distinctive areas of research."

Allan is also remembered, in Peter Lange's words, as "a terrific mentor."  He nurtured relationships with both junior faculty, like Joseph Grieco, and graduate students, like Richard Salsman.  "I will miss him," Richard Salsman reflects, "in 2006 I was his grader for his course on elections; our office chats were so memorable. A very wise man, not only in LIFE and in PS but also in football play strategy!"  Joseph Grieco believes he is a better scholar of International Relations because of sage advice Allan and Allan's peers offered.  "I remember Allan Kornberg as a good intellectual colleague.  He was curious about the work of junior faculty.  In my case he offered good counsel."

Read Duke Today's news item from 2008 announcing Allan's retirement.