Lorraine Allan

Lorraine G. Allan Memorial Garden
Dedicated September 20, 2013

Pictures taken on the day of the opening of the Lorraine G. Allan Memorial Garden

Pictures taken from the flute concert in the Lorraine G. Allan Memorial Garden

Lorraine Gloria Allan received her PhD at McMaster in 1968, and joined the faculty of the Psychology department in 1971. She was Chair of the Department from 1984-1989. Lorraine was an excellent undergraduate teacher, helping countless McMaster students appreciate the importance of quantitative thinking. She successfully mentored generations of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She was a renowned researcher, and received many accolades for her innovative research contributions described in almost 100 articles in prestigious, rigorously refereed journals. Throughout her career at McMaster, and even into retirement, Lorraine had continuous research support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and often additionally from the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In addition to her outstanding teaching and research accomplishments, Lorraine was a remarkable presence at McMaster throughout her 35-year career. Lorraine served on just about every important committee at McMaster. She served on the Science and Engineering Tenure and Promotion Committee. She was the Chair of Undergraduate Council. She was elected twice to Senate and twice to the Board of Governors. While on Senate, she was a member of Senate Executive and on two occasions chaired the Senate Committee on Appointments. For many years, she was the Chair of the Joint Senate/Faculty Association Drafting Committee that prepared various revisions of the McMaster University Policy and Regulations with Respect to Academic Appointment, Tenure and Promotion (the “Yellow Document”). Nobody knew that document better than Lorraine — she was the keeper of that sacred text. Lorraine played an active role in the McMaster University Faculty Association (MUFA).

She served on a variety of MUFA committees. In 1994/95 she was the President of MUFA, and then in 2002/03 she was (in an almost unprecedented move) again elected MUFA President. Lorraine was committed not only to McMaster, but also to the idea of the university. She truly believed that collegiality was the way to settle disagreements during negotiations, and vigorously defended this view against the arguments of her more cynical colleagues. Lorraine also appreciated the benefits of academic freedom. She readily spoke her mind, sometimes raising issues that the University Administration found uncomfortable. Those who served with her for a while learned that Lorraine knew her stuff, and, in controversial matters, she invariably was right. Lorraine got to the core of issues, and valued precision. She had little patience for clichéd mission statements, banal vision statements, or platitudinous directions documents. Lorraine loved the academic life, and she was the conscience of this University.

She understood that there are important differences between a university and a corporation. Because of her wide knowledge of McMaster, and her unceasing work on its behalf, she was widely respected by many for her advice and insights in many areas concerning the functioning of this University. Indeed, she had a hand in drafting many of the documents that form the basis of McMaster governance.

Lorraine's contributions to McMaster were recognized. She was inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Gallery in 2003, won the MUFA Outstanding Service Award in 2004, and the Dedicated Service Award of the Canadian Association of University Teachers in 2011. Lorraine's administrative skills, apparent at McMaster, attracted the attention of the wider scientific community. She served on the editorial boards of the premier journals in her discipline. She served as a member of a variety of research grant evaluation panels (NSERC, NIH). Indeed, she chaired the NSERC experimental psychology panel. She was on the executive board of many professional associations, and was elected President of some. In 2006 she received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science.

Lorraine did all this — the administrative work (to McMaster and the profession), the research contributions, the contribution to education of others, the parenting and grand parenting, with great aplomb. I don't know how she did it. My other colleagues and I kvetched a lot more about our onerous work load than she did, even though we had much less on our plate. Lorraine continued her service to McMaster after her (then mandatory) retirement in 2006. She worked many hours updating the “Yellow Document.” She served as the McMaster University Retirees Association (MURA) Observer to the Board of Governors, MURA’s Liaison to MUFA, and a member of the Pension and Benefits Committee. In May 2012 Lorraine became a member of MURA Council and Chair of the Pension and Benefits Committee.

Remarkably, she continued to be very effective in this role even as her health and mobility deteriorated, and she had to run meetings by conference call. When Lorraine died on December 16, 2012, she made her final contribution to McMaster. She bequeathed her body to the McMaster University Education Program in Anatomy.

Shepard Siegel
Distinguished University Professor of Psychology,
Neuroscience & Behaviour (Emeritus)
MUFA President 1993/94

Contact Department

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB)
Psychology Building (PC), Room 102
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton Ontario L8S 4K1