Campus News

Irish literature scholar named new director of Willson Center

Nicholas Allen, director of the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies at the National University of Ireland in Galway, has been appointed director of the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts following an extensive search.

He succeeds Betty Jean Craige, professor of comparative literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, who was the Willson Center director from 1993 until her retirement this year. Craige will serve as interim director until Allen’s appointment becomes ­effective in January.

“The creative and innovative energies that Nicholas Allen brings to UGA will enhance the Willson Center and thereby, the arts and humanities,” said Hugh Ruppersburg, interim dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, who chaired the search committee. “His appointment ensures that the Willson Center will play an even more important role than before on the campus.”

The Willson Center, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research, promotes scholarly inquiry and creative activity in the humanities and the arts by supporting faculty research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars and visiting artists as well as public conferences, exhibitions and performances.

“There was a broad consensus that Nicholas is the right person to step into the big shoes left by Betty Jean Craige,” said David Lee, vice president for research. “Nicholas also is the right person to help realize the ambitious goals and vision of the road map designed to elevate the Willson Center to the next level, which was developed by a seasoned and thoughtful faculty team and endorsed by a nationally prominent humanities faculty. Nicholas will bring energy, an entrepreneurial spirit, a love of the humanities, and a warm, infectious spirit to this role.”

Allen will join the English department as the Franklin Professor of English. He received his B.A. in English literature from Queen’s University in Belfast in 1993 and his Ph.D. from the School of English at Trinity College in Dublin in 2000.

A scholar of Irish literature and culture, Allen has published five books. He is the author of Modernism, Ireland and Civil War and George Russell and the New Ireland.

He is the editor of The Letters and Papers of Ernie O’Malley, 1924-1957 with Cormac O’Malley; That Island Never Found: Essays and Poems for Terence Brown with Eve Patten; The Proper Word: Ireland, Poetry, Politics by Gerald Dawe; and Cities of Belfast with Aaron Kelly.