BRIGHTON- Passed away on June 5, 2022, at the age of 86. Survived by his loving wife Bernice (Spizer) Shank; children, Steven (Anne Wright Shank) Shank and Naomi (Diomaye Faye) Shank; grandchildren, Daniel (fiancée Anna Schab), David, Jacob and Cilaw; brother Jerry (Arlene) Shank; and nieces, nephews and dear friends.
Alan was born on May 12, 1936, in Hatboro, PA, the eldest son of Nathan M. and Cecilia (Greenberg) Shank. He attended Franklin & Marshall College, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Government in 1958 and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. Alan served as assistant to the township manager in the Middletown Township (PA) from 1959-1960, and administrator in the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in 1960. He married Bernice Spizer on March 4, 1960, and later that year was drafted to the US Army, undertaking basic training at Fort Dix, NJ. In August 1962, he was transferred to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, serving as Assistant Chaplain. Upon his release from the Army, he and Bernice moved to Highland Park, NJ where he pursued a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from Rutgers University, in which his dissertation on NJ Reapportionment Politics was published. His son, Steven, was born in March 1964.
Alan’s teaching career began at Boston University where he was assistant professor of government. He taught there from 1965 – 1970 and his daughter, Naomi, was born in March 1966. From 1969-1970, the family moved to Europe where Alan taught in a graduate program with the US Military in Brussels, Belgium and Heidelberg, Germany. Alan became an associate professor of political science at SUNY Geneseo in 1970 and was department chair from 1984 until 2001. He taught courses on Presidential Politics, American Public Policy, and Public Administration. For many years, he supervised internships for Geneseo students in the local area, Albany and Washington, DC. Former students shared they considered Dr. Shank a professor who held students to high standards, was fair, and possessed a good sense of humor. One of his most notable students, Jacqueline (Dycke) Norris, who served as Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff, credited Alan for his efforts to get her and other students involved in the community and government through internships. Alan taught thousands of college students over his 36-year academic career and was instrumental in developing the Honors Thesis program, International Relations major and a departmental journal that publishes outstanding student papers. In addition to teaching, Alan was the author, co-author, or editor of 10 books, writing on urban politics, American public policy, the American Presidency, and controversies in American and international politics. Alan was a strong advocate for workers’ rights. He was a member of the United University Professions Teachers Union (UUP) until his retirement, serving as an executive board member of UUP from 1981-1993. During his sabbatical in 1977-78, Alan was a guest scholar at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC and worked at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Aside from his academic career, Alan dabbled in local politics and civic life. He was Democratic Committee Chair for Livingston County, a candidate for the Geneseo Central School Board (1976), a consultant to the Livingston County Planning Committee (1972), member of the Committee for School Propositions (1976), Co-Chair for the Geneseo Citizens Committee for Public Education (1977) and member of the Livingston County Environmental Management Council (1980-85).
After Alan and Bernice moved to Rochester in 1985, they became active in the Jewish community at Temple B’rith Kodesh. Alan also served on the board of the Rochester Hillel Foundation (1984-88) and was a seminar participant of the US Hillel Director’s Conference in Jerusalem, Israel (1986).
Upon retiring in 2001, Alan taught courses in American Politics and current events at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, presented lectures on the American Presidency to various community organizations, was a political commentator on a local radio station and offered current events classes at retirement homes in the Rochester area.
Alan was a devoted and loving husband to Bernice who he was married to for 62 years, father to Steven and Naomi, father-in-law to Anne and Diomaye and grandfather to Daniel, David, Jacob and Cilaw. He loved to grow vegetables in his garden, listen to jazz and classical music, read the D&C and New York Times every day and was a voracious reader of politics, history, biographies, and detective stories. He will be dearly missed by us all.
Chapel and Graveside Services will be held on FRIDAY, June 10 at 12 PM in White Haven Memorial Park (210 Marsh Road). CLICK HEREfor a map to the cemetery.
The family will sit Shiva on Saturday, June 11 from 1 to 4 PM at St. John’s Meadows (Chestnut Court). CLICK HEREfor a map to Shiva.
Donations may be made to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at RIT, in Alan’s memory. CLICK HERE to donate online.