Jo Allen, the eighth president and the first alumna president of Meredith College, has announced her plans to retire by the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
Now in her 13th year as president, Allen has led the College through significant growth. The 2012-2018 comprehensive campaign, the largest in Meredith’s history, raised over $90 million with 33 gifts of $1 million or more. Ongoing fund-raising, despite the pandemic, has consistently generated over $10 million per year.
Allen has also led the College through extensive capital projects on its beautiful 225-acre campus, including the addition of the new Elizabeth Triplett Beam Fountain Plaza, the Dickson Community Garden, the Lowery Fitness Center, and the CHESS (Communication and Health, Exercise, & Sport Sciences) academic building. In addition, extensive renovations to Belk Dining Hall, Jones Auditorium, Carlyle Campbell Library, Jones Chapel, Johnson Hall, Mae Grimmer House, Moore Drive House, all residence halls, the Nifong Nutrition Lab, Weatherspoon Gym, and the Meredith Lake provide state-of-the-art, accessible, and vibrant learning/living spaces. In process are the extended renovations to Jones Auditorium and a new sports complex for tennis and softball.
Allen is especially proud of the efforts to boost community commitments and inclusion. Through the pandemic, no employees were laid off or furloughed; emergency fund sources were established or enhanced to help students and employees with unanticipated expenses. A renewed commitment to inclusion and belonging reinforced the spirit of the Meredith community, especially at times when remote work and study were necessary.
In her career in higher education, Allen has been a tenured, full professor of English/technical and scientific communication and served in various faculty and/or administrative positions at East Carolina University, NC State University, and Widener University before becoming president of Meredith. In addition, she has served in various leadership roles in higher education organizations including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (board chair), the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (Board chair), the USA South athletic conference (chair of the President’s Council), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Commissioner), SACSCOC (Board of Directors), Cooperating Raleigh Colleges (chair of the President’s Council), and more. A well-published scholar and award-winning writer in her field, Allen has also served in her discipline’s various organizations, as well as on editorial boards and accreditation teams.
“Dr. Allen is an outstanding president and has and will continue to make a lasting impact on the entire Meredith community,” said Board of Trustees Chair Charles Royal. “While this news is never easy to hear, we are happy for Jo as she starts another chapter.”
In her announcement, Allen said, “Being president of my alma mater—a college that so enriched my life by helping me identify my life’s goals and build my confidence, my sense of purpose, and my network of friends and supporters—has been an honor and privilege. Few people have the opportunity to live full circle with the closing of a career at the very place that career began to take shape. I am grateful beyond measure for all those who have helped prepare and sustain me all these years.”
A national search for Allen’s successor will start soon and will be led by the Board of Trustees.