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A tribute to our colleague, George Sulzner

November 14, 2018

To the ACSUS Community:

On behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, I announce, with great sadness, the death of our very good colleague and friend, Dr. George Sulzner. He was an extraordinary human being and he is deeply missed. His excellent qualities as a person and professional were numerous and the Canadian studies community particularly has lost one of its most outstanding and valued members.

George Sulzner

In personal terms, George was a very warm and caring human being who was one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. He was a wonderful friend to everyone and an especially good mentor, including to me. He had a tremendous sense of humor that, combined with his energy, profound insights, intelligence, and good nature, made him a particularly conspicuous presence everywhere he went. He was a devoted family man, active in his church, and tireless in his interests, including such varied activities as classical music and choir.

His professional accomplishments were equally impressive. In addition to his highly illustrious career within Canadian studies, he was a distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, having served with a well-earned reputation as an exceptional teacher and scholar as well as a successful former department chair and a prominent member of the American Political Science Association. A testimony to his energy, enthusiasm, and abilities could be noted in the continuation of his academic career following his official retirement.  He continued his academic service with a prominent role within the university’s School of Public Policy while, simultaneously, pursuing his highly successful work as a Labor Arbitrator for the United States Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union, which he had done for nearly 30 years.

As accomplished as he was within these areas, they paled in comparison with his contributions to Canadian studies. George was not merely a former president of the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States [ACSUS] and the Middle-Atlantic and New England Council on Canadian Studies [MANECCS]—he was one of the most valued leaders that these organizations ever had.  It would be impossible to summarize, succinctly, the breadth and depth of his achievements and their value to this community but one example might prove to be indicative. George agreed to become ACSUS President at a time of financial and organizational crisis for the association. Other leaders might have despaired under such circumstances but George applied his tremendous enthusiasm, intelligence, and compassion for his colleagues to that responsibility. He not only collaboratively led ACSUS out of this crisis and into a period of stability and growth but devoted his own resources toward accomplishing that goal. This period of leadership merely capped a career of numerous scholarly publications, successful teaching of multiple courses on Canada, and countless acts of profound advising and guiding of students, colleagues, and other members of this community that has provided an inestimable legacy.

George was recognized for his tremendous life and career, in 2011, with the Donner Medal, which was created as the result of a bequest by the William H. Donner Foundation of New York and is the highest form of recognition that the world of Canadian studies can bestow. It was awarded in acknowledgement of his profound vocation of scholarship, teaching, administrative service, and program innovation in Canadian studies and it was, truly, one of the most deserved acts of recognition that this award has ever conferred upon a recipient.

These achievements seem, nonetheless, superficial when compared to George Sulzner’s achievements as a friend and as a person. I know that, without him, I never would have achieved nearly as much of my potential as I have—not only within Canadian studies but in my general professional life as well.  I am very certain that I am not the only person who feels that way about this extraordinary man. He truly touched everyone with whom he came into contact and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

George Sulzner will be honored at the next ACSUS biennial conference, which will be held in November 13-16, 2019 in Montreal. A memorial service for him will be held at 1:00 PM, Friday, November 9, 2018 at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, which is located at 121 North Pleasant Street in Amherst, Massachusetts. Messages of condolence would be greatly appreciated by George’s wife, Fran Plumer, and may be mailed to her at 48 Pine Grove, Amherst, MA 01002. Personal contributions in his honor may be made in his name to Craig’s Doors (a caring shelter for homeless people) at and to the Unitarian-Universalist Music Fund at through the “Give” tab of the top menu.


Dr. James T. McHugh


Association for Canadian Studies in the United States

L’Association des Études canadiennes aux États Unis