Remembering Professor Emeritus Allen Greenberger

From Interim President Thomas Poon
July 8, 2015

Dear Pitzer College Community,

It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the passing of Professor Emeritus Allen Greenberger on Saturday, July 4, 2015.

Professor Allen Greenberger in the classroom in 1977.

Allen was born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 18, 1937. He joined the faculty of Pitzer College in 1966 and retired in 1999. Over the course of his three decades as a member of the History Field Group at Pitzer, he taught and mentored several hundred students across many disciplines, including History, Political Studies, Psychology, Religion, Mathematics, and Asian Studies. Professor Greenberger was a sensitive, perceptive, and wise teacher who brought out the best from his students, and his students eagerly sought his advice. This was evidenced by the long line of students waiting to meet with him outside his office on the second floor of Scott Hall almost every day of the week. The most important aspects of his teaching and mentoring carried far beyond the classroom and the office. He wrote frequently to his students, had regular phone conversations with them, and met with them across the country and even in foreign countries. The relationships he cultivated with his students lasted beyond the students’ graduations and continued after his own retirement.

Professor Allen Greenberger and Professor Sharon Snowiss co-teaching a class in 1983.

Students and colleagues across the Claremont Colleges who knew Professor Greenberger remember with admiration his intellectual vigor. He taught over thirty different courses throughout his career at Pitzer—Victorian England, the British Empire and Commonwealth, Asian Traditions, the Cultural History of Japan, Jewish History, Memory and History, and the Irish Experience are only a small sampling. More importantly, all who loved him and knew him simply as “Allen” remember him as a remarkable human being of great warmth, wit, and decency. Allen addressed students as individuals, understanding their needs uniquely. He mentored students across all disciplines and became known by those students as their go-to faculty member for issues ranging from the academic to the personal. He was a scholar, teacher, friend and a second father/uncle/brother to those who embraced him. Allen never married and never had children of his own, but the energy and commitment he put into holding real relationships beyond the walls of the college translated into an extended family in various countries around the world (including Israel, Libya, China, and Japan, to name just a few). Allen is survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Professor Greenberger was first diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer four years ago and then with myelodysplastic syndrome one year ago. There was a great outpouring of affection from friends—many of them former students and colleagues—in the final year of his life, as they came from around the world to be with him. During the last ten days of his life he was surrounded and cared for by close friends, many of them former students, faculty, and staff from Pitzer College. He remained in good form and held court and told stories with his visitors until shortly before his death.

Professor Greenberger asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Hillel at the Claremont Colleges. If you have stories you would like to share about Allen, please email them to [email protected]. A memorial site at will soon be available where an archive of letters sent to Allen by former students and faculty will be posted along with additional information about Allen’s philosophy on education and mentorship.

I know you share with me condolences for and support of Professor Greenberger’s family and friends during this time. I would personally like to thank David Straus ’90, Gloria Tseng ’92 and Professor Leah Light for their assistance with this remembrance.


Thomas Poon
Interim President

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

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