I was deeply saddened to read of the passing of Professor Allen Kassof in the January edition of PAW (On the Campus). As a Russian-studies specialist during my undergraduate years in the 1960s, I was hungry to get behind the Cold War headlines of the day and learn more about the Russian people and their society. In his groundbreaking course on Russian sociology, Professor Kassof peeled back the layers and gave me my first look inside a world to which few Americans had any exposure. When the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s, Professor Kassof’s insights into Russian society quickly became reality. By that time, I was closely involved as a Senate policy adviser in matters regarding U.S.-Russian nuclear-security cooperative efforts, and Dr. Kassof’s course opened many doors and facilitated important joint actions to keep the nuclear genie at bay.
As PAW indicated, Allen Kassof was dedicated to crossing great divides in global societies. He directed the student-scholar exchange program known as IREX during the height of the Cold War. He directed and participated in negotiations on ethnic conflict in Eastern Europe from the Baltics to the Balkans. As for Old Nassau, he crossed the “gender Rubicon” by leading the first platoon of female Critical Languages students onto the still all-male Princeton campus of that day. I owe much of my careers in Washington and college classrooms to Allen Kassof — he was truly an inspiration and a genuine peacemaker.
Editor’s note: The author is a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California’s School of International Relations.