For Immediate Release — August 17, 2004


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516


GENESEO, N.Y. — Alan H. Lutkus, an associate professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo, died Sunday (Aug. 15) after a long illness. A resident of Geneseo, he was 63.

Arriving at Geneseo in 1973 as a professor of linguistics and Renaissance literature, Lutkus branched out into other areas, teaching and publishing in modern British literature, American studies, secondary education teaching methodology, college writing and composition, and film studies.

"Alan Lutkus possessed a near-perfect intellect for a liberal arts college: unimaginably versatile, rapaciously witty and boundlessly creative," said SUNY Geneseo President Christopher C. Dahl.

Dahl credits Lutkus for having the vision to bring film studies into the Geneseo curriculum. After a "twenty-year crusade…we finally caught up to Alan’s vision," Dahl said. In 2002, the college introduced a film studies minor.

"A demanding, highly respected teacher and scholar, Alan, for his all irrepressible wisecracking, was a deeply committed educator and as dedicated a member of the Geneseo community as we could ever hope to find," Dahl said. "His passing represents an incalculable loss of one of Geneseo’s truly original, distinctive talents."

Lutkus received his bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1962. He went on to study at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., from which he received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in English in 1966 and 1973, respectively.

Before arriving in Geneseo, Lutkus served as an instructor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., from 1969-71, teaching linguistics, Renaissance English, Shakespeare and advanced writing. He also served as a lecturer at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., in the summer of 1968 and as a teaching associate at Indiana University from 1962-67 and 1968-69.

Distinguished Teaching Professor of English Ron Herzman, Lutkus’ longtime colleague and friend at SUNY Geneseo, said Lutkus accumulated thousands of films throughout the years.

"That was an interest that he acquired. The department asked him to take it up, and he did it with a vengeance," Herzman said. "When he went into something, he went into it pretty fanatically."

"What he loved to do was to find things and collect them, and that included the stuff he was working on," he said.

Herzman said Lutkus had high expectations of his students.

"He was sort of famous for grading papers. He put more comments than you could imagine," Herzman said. "A student taking Alan’s classes would quickly learn he would have to get serious."

In addition to his passion for literature and film, Lutkus was a performance-caliber jazz pianist, saxophonist, composer and satiric songwriter.

"While he most often shared these gifts locally with colleagues and close friends, Alan’s music occasionally found larger audiences, most notably in Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Club, whose legendary irreverent, edgy humor coincided perfectly with Alan’s own," Dahl said.

Lutkus is survived by his wife, Anne Daugherty Lutkus; sister, Susan (Raymond) Hermann of Chattanooga, Tenn.; nieces and nephews; and a grandniece.

A Memorial Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 18) at St. Mary’s Church, 4 Avon Road in Geneseo. A reception will follow at St. Mary’s Parish Center. Interment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Teresa House, 21 Highland Road, Geneseo, N.Y. 14454 or Friends of Music, Geneseo Foundation in c/o SUNY Geneseo, 1 College Circle, Geneseo, N.Y. 14454.

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