Dwight W. Allen and CIE

With great sadness, we announce that Dwight W. Allen, the former Dean of the School of Education (1968-1975), passed away at the age of 90 on October 16, 2021. The Dwight W. Allen Professorship of Educational Policy and Reform was created in his honor, and a plaque and portrait of Dwight can be viewed in the lobby of Furcolo Hall. A recording of the memorial service for him can be viewed here.


The origin of CIE can be traced back to the School of Education’s Colorado retreat in the fall of 1968. There faculty and students gathered in interest groups to address the challenge of creating various Centers for academic and applied activity – Dwight did not want formal departments and programs, feeling they soon would become too fixed and not responsive to changing needs.  But, Dwight had already made a commitment to create a Center for International Education.  In a real sense, he was the original founder of CIE, basically mandating its existence from the beginning. 


Dwight’s commitment to CIE led to the hiring of David Schimmel (downloads pdf). a former deputy director of Peace Corps in Ethiopia, as a faculty member to lead the new Center.  Dwight also recruited Gordon Schimmel as the very first planning doctoral candidate. They joined George Urch who was already on faculty, along with Steve Grant and Emeka Manuwuike who were then students in the School.  Emeka went on to become the first doctoral graduate of CIE in 1971. Dwight was actively interested in international education, working to recruit both faculty and students to the Center for International Education. He hired DRE in the fall of 1968 to join CIE, part of a large group of recent doctoral graduates from Stanford that Dwight brought to UMass.


He was a charismatic, iconoclastic, and controversial Dean who was hired to rebuild what was at that time a largely moribund School of Education at UMass.  From the beginning, he was committed to creating a totally new kind of School, with a fluid structure, an almost limitless set of learning modes, and substantial participation by faculty and students in transforming the School into an exciting, new institution. 


He was a cyclone of endless energy.  He scheduled meetings in the office and his home until midnight or later and starting in again at 4 a.m. the next day. He was hell-bent on change and trying new ideas. No part of the education process was considered immune from radical changes.  He had buttons made with slogans like: “No is not the right answer.”   When someone came to discuss a new idea or project with him, his response was, basically, “Why are you in here talking to me about this? Why haven’t you started doing it?”   He asked people to have the courage to “get on the train without knowing where it was going” - arguing that changes in the destination could be made as more was learned in the process.  He believed the biggest risk was not making mistakes, but the risk of not starting at all.


When he was hired, Dwight inherited a struggling USAID contract to build and staff a Comprehensive Girls Secondary School in Tororo, Uganda.  With multiple visits to Uganda, Dwight began revitalizing the program, hiring a new expatriate principal and teachers, bringing Ugandan teachers and administrators from Tororo to UMass for training, and injecting the staff there with a sense of pride and confidence.  He hired Michael Havilland as campus coordinator for the project and involved graduate students in helping to manage the contract, which became the first development project at CIE.


At first, CIE occupied space in the old Montague House next door to Furcolo and operated there until being moved to Hills House South along with much of the School. In 2016, CIE moved back to occupy a totally renovated Montague House.


Throughout his seven years as Dean and Professor in the School of Education, he was an ardent supporter of CIE and its commitment to work with education in developing countries. Dwight traveled extensively internationally, recruiting students and exploring opportunities.  DRE remembers traveling with him to Venezuela, chasing him through the terminal in Caracas carrying the ever-present case of Tab which was DWA’s energizer drink!


For the next 50 years, CIE sought to implement the values and key principles advocated by Dwight when he established CIE.  Generations of students have been influenced by his ideas and vision. While much has changed, the ethos of CIE has embodied many of his principles throughout its existence.


An obituary for Dwight from Old Dominion University, where he taught for many years after leaving UMass, can be found here.