Jo Allen, Ph.D., Meredith College Class of 1980, was named the eighth president of the College on April 18, 2011. Allen, who took office as president on July 1, 2011, is the first Meredith College alumna to assume the leadership of the 123-year-old institution, one of the largest private colleges for women in the United States. Allen brings her experience as a faculty member, administrator, and scholar to her current role as president of her alma mater.
Allen previously served as senior vice president and provost, and professor of English, at Widener University, in Chester, Pa. There she oversaw academic and student affairs on four campuses in two states for approximately 6,500 students and more than 700 full- and part-time faculty. Other leadership positions held by Allen at universities where she taught include special assistant positions for various projects, as well as vice provost and interim vice provost.
A North Carolina native, Allen earned her Master’s degree from East Carolina University and her doctorate from Oklahoma State University. Both her M.A. and her Ph.D. were in English literature, with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Communication. Her B.A. from Meredith was also in English. She served as tenured associate professor of English at East Carolina University and tenured associate professor at North Carolina State University.
Allen has made numerous contributions to the advancement of higher education. She was the lead coordinator for the Council of Europe and the American Educational Coalition’s review of assessment strategies for civic engagement, and has been the featured speaker and facilitator at programs including the American Council on Education Chief Academic Officer’s Institute and the Pennsylvania State University's Academic Leadership Academy. She has also served as president of the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, the largest international scholarly organization for technical and professional communication scholars, and has been a frequent regional and international site reviewer for Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges, and for the American Bar Association.
President Allen has published and presented in more than 200 scholarly venues, focusing on communication, assessment, and leadership in higher education. Books written or edited by Allen include Writing in the Workplace and Assessment in Technical and Professional Communication, which won the Council of Program’s in Technical and Scientific Communication’s 2010 award for best contribution to the work of program assessment. The book also won the 2012 College Composition and Communication Award for best collection of original essays about assessment of professional communication. In addition to publishing her own work extensively in the form of chapters in scholarly books, articles reprinted in books, peer reviewed articles, and articles in higher education publications, Allen has been a reviewer for scholarly journals, and has co-edited several special journal issues of Technical Communication Quarterly.
Currently, she serves on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Campus Compact and on the Accountability Committee for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She is a past board member for Urban Ministries and for The Downtown Clubs of Raleigh.