Allan Rodgers

1922 - 2011

Allan Rodgers, emeritus professor at The Pennsylvania State University, died at the age of 89 on April 19, 2011.

Rodgers was born in New York in 1922. He received a B.S. in economics from the City College of New York, graduating cum laude with honors in the social sciences. He served as lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War, as a crewmember on a destroyer escort in the Atlantic Theatre. Following the war, Rodgers returned to his studies and earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Wisconsin. He received his doctorate in 1950. His first position was as an assistant professor of geography at the University of Oklahoma, from 1948 to 1950.

Rodgers was appointed to a position in the Geography Department at Penn State in 1950, where he served until his retirement in 1988. He taught at Penn State for 38 years, serving as department head from 1963-70. Rodgers was an economic geographer with primary interests in regional economic development, industrial geography, and the economic geography of Italy, the U.S.S.R., and China.

Rodgers received numerous grants and awards throughout his career, including a research grant from the Office of Naval Research (1955-58) for work on the industrial port of Genoa, Italy; a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Fulbright Grants (1960-61) for research on the industrial geography of southern Italy; a grant in 1957 and 1960 for research on the USSR from the Inter-University Committee on Travel Grants; and a number of research grants from the Social Science Research Council and the National Science Foundation. In 1977, he was named an honorary foreign fellow of the Italian Geographical Society. In 1982-1983, he was awarded a Fulbright Lectureship for the University of Rome.

Rodgers authored or co-authored numerous journal articles, which appeared in the Annals of the Association of American GeographersEconomic GeographyThe Geographical ReviewEssays in Geography and Economic DevelopmentThe China Geographer; and Industrial Change; in addition to those that appeared in many foreign publications. He served the discipline and academia at large as head of the Symposia Committee of the AAG; consultant to the National Science Foundation; and consultant to the U.S. Council of Graduate Schools. Rodgers also served on the writing staff of the Columbia Encyclopedia. Rodgers published The Soviet Far East: Geographical Perspectives on Development in 1990.

Rodgers served as a member of a special delegation to China in the 1980s following President Richard Nixon’s landmark trip to that country. The Penn State group in that delegation included the president of the university and several deans as well as Rodgers, and they spent several weeks as invited guests. He enjoyed the experience. “I believe that one cannot become a good teacher without extensive field and library research,” he told his co-worker E. Willard Miller for the history book The College of Earth Mineral Sciences at Penn State in 1992. During an active retirement, Rodgers gave invited lectures at several universities in The People’s Republic of China.

Allan Rodgers (Necrology). 2011. AAG Newsletter 46(7): 20.