Nelson A. Rockefeller government professor emeritus Roger Masters dies at age 90

A memorial service for Masters was held at the Roth Center for Jewish Life on July 9.

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 7/11/23 11:43am

On July 10, the flag was lowered on the Green in memory of Masters.
by Arizbeth Rojas / The Dartmouth

Roger Masters, Nelson A. Rockefeller government professor emeritus, died at age 90 on June 22, according to the arts and sciences department website. The Masters family held a memorial service at the Roth Center for Jewish Life on July 9. 

After many years as a professor at Yale University, Masters taught at Dartmouth from 1967 until 1998, his obituary wrote. According to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Elizabeth Smith, Masters maintained an active research career after his retirement. His work centered on political philosophy with an emphasis on Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Niccolo Machiavelli. 

Before his tenures at Dartmouth and Yale, Masters studied at Harvard University and served two years in the US army, the arts and sciences department website wrote. In 1961, Masters received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, according to his obituary. 

Later in life, Masters went on to write on biological and environmental impacts on human behavior. He wrote several books throughout his career, including, “The Political Philosophy of Rousseau,” “The Nature of Politics, Beyond Relativism: Science and Human Values” and “Fortune is a River: Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli’s Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History,” the department of arts and sciences website wrote. 

This year, the book “Biopolitics at 50 Years” by Tony Wohlers featured Masters’s work and celebrated biopolitics — the research field that Masters influenced.

Masters is survived by his three children he had with his first wife Judith Bush — Seth, William and Kath Masters — and four grandchildren, his obituary wrote. According to the Valley News, the family was known for their outdoor activities and travels to France. 

After a divorce, Masters married Suzanne Putnam in 1984. The couple lived in South Woodstock, Vermont before Putnam’s death in 2005, according to Masters’s obituary. Masters then moved to The Greens in Hanover, New Hampshire and lived there until the end of his life.