Profiles in Philanthropy: Allen J. Hart '82

allen hartHaving grown up in Williamstown, Mass., Allen Hart ’82 has always felt at home in a small, vibrant intellectual community. “Ed Wall, former Amherst dean of admission, saw in me,” Allen says, “a hardworking teenager concerned with improving not only his own station in life but conditions for others as well.” At Amherst, Allen majored in psychology, played football and ran track. He also held work-study jobs with campus police, the Little Red Schoolhouse and the Mead Art Museum.

After receiving a Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard, Allen joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1991. At Iowa, he was named “professor of the year” and spoke at Commencement in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, which holds more than twice as many people as live in his hometown. He serendipitously learned of a new faculty position in Amherst’s psychology department. “Even the most jaded of my university colleagues,” Allen says, “acknowledged that the possibility of teaching at Amherst was a ‘plum’ too good to pass up.”

Since returning to campus in 1996 he has been granted tenure, served as department chair and achieved the rank of full professor. He has served as dean of new students since 2003. Now that they are local, Allen and his wife, Meg ’82, who met as first-year students in Morrow Dormitory, attend Reunion Weekend every year, usually with their children, Ben, 18, and Maya, 13. Allen and Meg are deeply involved with A Better Chance (ABC), which recruits high-achieving students of color from underserved school districts to live in Amherst and attend the public high school. Ed Wall and the Amherst Class of 1969 were among the founders of the Amherst ABC program.

Thoughts on giving to Amherst: “From the dean’s office I can appreciate that we need to do even more to make an Amherst education accessible to the most promising students, regardless of their ability to pay. We need to renew and redouble our already significant efforts to find and support students and faculty to enrich the educational experience for all.

To learn more about how you might support Amherst, contact: Timothy A. Neale ’70, Director of Gift Planning, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002-5000; (413) 542-8256;;

Photo: Frank Ward