Arts & Humanities Campus News Society & Culture

Nicholas Allen named director of UGA’s Willson Center

Athens, Ga. – 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 University of Georgia Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts following an extensive search. He succeeds Betty Jean Craige, professor of comparative literature in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, who was the Willson Center director from 1993 until her retirement earlier this year. Craige will serve as interim director until Allen’s appointment becomes effective in January 2012.

“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.

Allen will join the English department as the Franklin Professor of English. He currently holds the title of Moore Institute Professor. 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. Allen also has published more than 30 articles and reviews.

David Lee, UGA vice president for research, said, “There was a broad consensus that Nicholas is the right person to step into the big shoes left by Betty Jean Craige. Nicholas also is the right person to help realize the ambitious goals and vision of the roadmap 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. We are delighted to have recruited him.”

The Willson Center co-sponsors with the Center for International Trade and Security the annual Delta Prize for Global Understanding, which is awarded to individuals who by their own initiative have provided opportunities for greater understanding among cultures and nations. The Delta Prize is endowed by Delta Air Lines.

With an endowment gift from Harry and Jane Willson and in cooperation with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Willson Center established the Harry and Jane Willson Professorship in Humanities and the Jane Willson Professorship in Arts. The Willson Center also awards grants through competitions.

For more information about the UGA Willson Center, see