In Memoriam: Glen Gordon

Glen Gordon
Glen Gordon

Glen Gordon, former university provost, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and chair of the political science department, died at the age of 88 on Friday, June 12.

Gordon was born on Nov. 16, 1931 at Unity Hospital, in Brooklyn, NY, the third child of Sylvia and Samuel Gordon. He earned his undergraduate degree from New York University with a major in accounting and soon after, enlisted in the Air Force. Upon finishing his time as an airman, Gordon attended the University of Chicago where he earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science. He met his wife, Nelly, at the University of Chicago. They married on December 22, 1959 in Mexico City.

Gordon began his life in academia at Michigan State University. In 1964, the family moved to Amherst where he joined the political science department at UMass Amherst. He became chairman of the political science department in 1975. In 1984, Gordon was appointed dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences. He served fourteen years as dean and three years as University Provost. He retired after 38 years at UMass. In 2003, in recognition of his contributions to the university, the newly built Political Economic Research Institute (PERI) building was named in his honor: Gordon Hall. Even with such impressive achievements, he always said his greatest accomplishment was his three girls.

Gordon was a person who highly valued his family and friendships. He loved spending time with his grandchildren. He also loved the sun and the beach, where he spent many summers vacationing with his family on the Cape and in Mexico.

Gordon loved music and was an exceptionally talented pianist. He adored performing in the Valley Light Opera's Gilbert and Sullivan productions. He also loved baseball and the Red Sox. When growing up, baseball was something over which he and his father developed a strong bond. This love of sports was also the core of his relationship with his daughter, Dina. On Sundays, he was always working on the New York Times crossword puzzle. He was also was an avid reader and loved a good mystery.

Gordon is survived by his loving wife Nelly; his three daughters Vivian, Elena (Dina) and Lillian and their spouses (Gil, Ed and Fernando); and his four grandchildren Alicia, Nathaniel, Robert and David.

A celebration of his life will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gordon’s memory may be made to the Valley Light Operaor a charity of your choice. Those wishing to sign the online guestbook may do so at