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Meredith College Names New President

Jo Allen, Ph.D., First Meredith Alumna to Lead College, Will Assume Presidency July 1

Jo Allen, Ph.D., Meredith College Class of 1980, has been named the eighth president of the College, effective July 1, 2011. Allen is the first Meredith College alumna to assume the leadership of the 120-year old institution.

Allen replaces retiring president, Maureen A. Hartford, who became the first female president of the College when she was selected by the Board of Trustees 12 years ago. Meredith College, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, is one of the largest private women’s colleges in the U.S.

Sam E. Ewell, Jr., chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, made the announcement to several hundred faculty and staff members, students, alumnae and community leaders at an event held on campus.

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 a 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.

“It’s often said, ‘if you want to change the world, educate a woman,” Allen continued. “I look forward to working with the faculty, staff, alumnae and the extended Meredith family to create the next generation of world changers.”

Allen said one of her key foci would be to expand Meredith’s partnerships with business, government and not-for-profit organizations throughout the state and nation. “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.

“I know that I speak for the entire Meredith College Board of Trustees and the faculty, staff, alumnae and student members of the search committee when I say how delighted we are that Allen will be our next president,” Ewell said. “We conducted a thorough and deliberate national search and considered dozens of extremely well-qualified candidates from a range of backgrounds. In the end, Allen was our unanimous choice because she possesses the scholarship and leadership qualities Meredith needs.

“She’s a believer in what Meredith is all about,”Ewell said, “and the fact that she’s also an alumna was icing on the cake. In short, Allen is the ideal choice to shepherd Meredith College into the future.”

Following the announcement, Allen and Hartford met with members of the College community at a reception in the College’s main administration building.

“My predecessors, including Dr. Hartford, have helped expand Meredith’s focus and strengthen her reputation as one of the premier centers of higher education in the nation,” Allen said. “I pledge to continue that legacy with all the energy and enthusiasm I can muster.

“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.”

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About Meredith College
Chartered in 1891, Meredith College is now one of the largest independent private women’s colleges in the U.S. With more than 2,100 students, Meredith offers a comprehensive liberal arts undergraduate education, as well as coeducational graduate programs in business, nutrition and education.

Date Submitted: 2011-04-18

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