A former head of the political science department at the University of Connecticut, Louis Gerson, passed away on Sunday in Southbury, Connecticut at the age of 94, due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Gerson was an accomplished political science professor at UConn, specializing in international relations, U.S. foreign policy and later in his career, the Holocaust.
Gerson fought in World War II and became an American citizen during his time in the Army. Gerson emigrated with his mother from Poland at the age of 17 after escaping the Holocaust. He later lost many relatives who remained in Poland during that time.
After serving in the Army, Gerson went on to attend UConn, graduating as an honors student in 1948. He later went on to attain his PhD at Yale before returning to UConn as an instructor.
Gerson’s son, Elliot Gerson, said he believes early life experiences shaped his father’s interest in political science.
“He saw through his own early life just how important politics and international relations were,” Elliot said.
Bill Gerson, Gerson’s other son, spoke of his father’s love and commitment to teaching.
“To my dad, the classroom was a sacred space. He loved teaching,” Gerson said.
Gerson also spoke of his father’s close relationships to other faculty at UConn, particularly Homer Babbidge, a former president of the university.
Gerson was instrumental in saving Polish records from the time of the Holocaust and building research for the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies at Oxford and UConn’s Dodd Center.
Annie Swanson, Gerson’s daughter, attended UConn when Gerson was head of the political science department.
“People would be like, ‘Oh, you’re Lou Gerson’s daughter.’ He was kind of a legend,” Swanson said.
Gerson was active in the campaigns of former Connecticut senators Abraham Ribicoff, Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman.
Gerson was also recognized as a Ford Foundation fellow, a Rockefeller Foundation fellow, a Guggenheim fellow and a Fulbright scholar. He wrote three books, including a biography of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, also serving as Mansfield Democratic Town Committee Chair from 1969 to 1972.
Gerson is survived by his three children, 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Schae Beaudoin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.