Donald Rallis: Open to the World

By Professor of Geography Stephen P. Hanna, on the retirement of his friend and colleague

A portrait of Nelson Mandela hung in the office of Associate Professor of Geography Donald Rallis most of his 23 years at Mary Washington. The South African leader personified the anti-apartheid movement, and many professors and students saw him as a symbol of freedom and justice. But Rallis’ choice to so honor Mandela revealed aspects of Rallis’ character and accomplishments that deserve notice on his retirement from UMW. Rallis grew up in apartheid South Africa and enjoyed the privileges that system afforded whites. Yet, at University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in the late 1970s, his sense of justice led him to become an activist against apartheid. In 1982, he left South Africa to avoid compulsory service in a military charged with preserving the racist state. He finished his studies in the U.S. In 1990, Rallis arrived at Mary Washington College – a smaller, quieter, and less diverse institution than UMW is today. He created courses in third world development and world … [Read more...]