The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Political science professor dies of cancer

George Washington said, “I walk, as it were, on untrodden ground.” There were no precedents for him to follow in his attempts to mold a future for a young nation. Professor Franklin Greene Balch III, also established precedents as he helped to form the futures of several generations of SMU students.

Balch, Professor Emeritus of Political Science for SMU died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 74.

A memorial for the retired professor will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Perkins Chapel on the SMU campus.

“He was always bigger than life,” said political science professor Brad Carter. “Frank was outspoken. He was a New England aristocrat and intellectual who was always interested in new ideas. He loved new ideas and he loved his students.”

Carter said that close friend Henry Kissinger visited Balch at the nursing home before his (Balch’s) death. Kissinger was supposed to visit for about 10 minutes, but the discussion stretched to 35 minutes as they spoke of the topic they studied and loved, politics.

“Kissinger and Balch worked together at Harvard prior to his (Balch’s) arrival at SMU,” Carter said. “Kissinger boasted that he had introduced Frank to his wife Janet when they were at Harvard together.”

Balch married Janet Parke in 1962. Kissinger went to work for the State Department, and Balch received his bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from Harvard University. Balch later received an M.A in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia, and an M.A and Ph.D. in Diplomatic History from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University.

He joined the SMU faculty in 1966 as a member of the political science department and as director of the new Honors program.

“At the time it was called Superior Studies,” said Professor Marshall Terry of the English Department. “He was known as the SS Director, then later the Honors Director. “

Caswell said Balch was committed to his students and was actively involved in a wide range of student activities, including many years as faculty adviser to Lambda Chi Alpha.

“The thing that I most remember, is his willingness to be involved in the total growth of students,” said James Caswell, vice president of Student Affairs. “Balch was not a Lambda Chi Alpha from his younger days, he was initiated here (SMU) because of his dedication as an advisor and member of the faculty.”

Balch was honored over the years by the SMU student body for his excellence in teaching and his community contributions. Honors include three Rotunda Outstanding Professor awards, the James K. Wilson Outstanding Professor award, SMU’s prestigious “M” award, the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Alpha Tau Omega Teacher Appreciation Award.

“He had a well earned reputation as an outstanding teacher, particularly of first years,” said professor James Hopkins of the College of History.

Balch served as chairman of the department of political science, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Political Science, vice president of the Faculty Senate and chairman of the presidential scholars search committee.

“Balch was a clever man with a pithy sense of humor,” said professor James Hollifield from the college of political science. “Your first impression of him might be that he had a negative attitude, but he was always doing things like surfacing with a stack of files on new students that he had brought over to save someone a trip. He was a warm hearted and generous person who shared his books and knowledge with others.”

Before joining SMU, professor Balch held several administrative positions, including assistant dean of students at Wesleyan University, director of the honors college at Wesleyan University and assistant to the director of the Harvard International Seminar. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1996, when The Balch Prize in international studies was established in his honor.

Balch was also a long time supporter of Canterbury house at SMU.

He and his wife were also active in the Dallas arts community. As a collector of Pre-Columbian art, they often traveled around the world.

” I first met Frank 14 years ago,” said Mike Adams employee at the SMU Bookstore. “He was an extremely dynamic and sincere person. The last time I saw him, he was preparing to go on a trip to South America with Janet.”

When he was leaving for his trip he jokingly told Adams, “If you see the flag at half-mast, you’ll know that I didn’t make it back.”

The flag has flown at half-mast at SMU this week in honor of Balch.

His wife Janet, his sister, Virginia Balch Harlman and four nephews, survive Balch.

Donations in his honor may be made to the Franklin Balch Memorial Fund c/o Dedman College Office Of Development, SMU, Box 750404, Dallas, Texas 75275-0404.

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