Meredith College alumna Jo Allen, '80, has been named the eighth president of Meredith College. Allen's appointment was announced on April 18, 2011.
Allen is the first Meredith College alumna to be named president in the College's 120-year history. Her presidency will begin on July 1, 2011.
Sam E. Ewell, Jr., chair of Meredith's Board of Trustees, made the announcement in Jones Auditorium to a full house that included faculty and staff members, students, alumnae and guests from the community.
A North Carolina native, Allen earned her master's degree from East Carolina University and her doctorate from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. She has served as tenured associate professor of English at East Carolina University and tenured associate professor at North Carolina State University.
In addition to her duties as a faculty member, Allen has served in a number of leadership positions at the universities where she taught, including special assistant to the dean and vice chancellor, as assistant dean and interim vice provost.
She is currently senior vice president, provost and professor of English at Widener University, Chester, Pa., where she oversees academic and student affairs at Widener's main campus in Chester and for satellite campuses in Harrisburg and Exton, Pa., and Wilmington, Del.
"It's both an honor and a privilege to be selected as the next president of Meredith College," Allen said. "This is the position I've aspired to and prepared for my entire career. As an alumna, I know first hand that Meredith is a special place, one that for more than a century has produced women leaders who have made their mark in education, business, government and, perhaps most importantly, with their families and communities."
New President is "Believer in What Meredith is All About"
The announcement event began with an invocation from Captain C. C. Wiggins, '76, who asked for a moment of silence to remember those who were injured or killed by tornadoes that swept through North Carolina two days earlier. She made special mention of Shaw University, which closed for the semester after sustaining tornado damage.
Current Meredith President Maureen Hartford then spoke about her tenure as president and welcomed the newly appointed president-elect. Former Board of Trustees Chair and Presidential Search Committee Chair Elizabeth Triplett Beam, '72, outlined the search process the Board had undertaken to select the new president. She thanked all of those members of the Meredith community who had been involved in the process that led to Allen's selection.
In his introduction, Ewell called Allen "a believer in what Meredith is all about."
"The fact that she's also an alumna was icing on the cake," Ewell said. "In short, she is the ideal choice to shepherd Meredith College into the future."
After being welcomed to the stage, Allen recounted her time as a student at Meredith, praising the College for putting her on the path to become both an educator and leader. (Click here to watch Allen's speech.)
"If the last two decades of the 20th century were about 'women's ways of knowing,' the first two decades of the 21st century are clearly about 'women's ways of leading.' We have the skills, knowledge and passion to help solve many of the challenges currently facing our country while providing an unparalleled academic experience for our students," Allen said.
"Obviously a number of things have changed at Meredith since I was a student here," Allen said, "but the core of what makes this College so special has not. I must say that it's good to be coming home."
Faculty, Staff and Student Representatives Offer Official Welcome to Campus
Allen was then welcomed by Associate Professor of Mathematics Tim Hendrix, chair of the Faculty Council, Donna Knott, chair of the Staff Affairs Committee and SGA President Anna Beavon Gravely, '11, who presented Allen with copies of two books chronicling Meredith College's history.
The event, which concluded with Meredith's alma mater, was followed by a campus reception. While on campus, Allen met with students in the dining hall and attended special receptions for faculty and staff. Allen was also featured in video messages to Meredith faculty/staff, students and alumnae.
"I look forward to working with all of you in making Meredith the very best institution it can be and the top women's college in the nation," Allen said in her message to faculty and staff. Click here to view the message.
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