By Arianna Lange
Salisbury Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Diane Allen has announced her intention to retire at the end of the year.
Allen first joined the Salisbury faculty in 2009 and has become an integral part of accomplishing university initiatives, including setting up the Advising Center, implementing the Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office, increasing rates of STEM and graduate enrollments and also adding to Salisbury’s offering of online courses.
However, the thing she is most proud of is establishing the Honors College and creating the graduate program.
“Now there are two doctorates in the program, we have a graduate dean, and we have some really strong masters programs,” Allen said. “So, I’m really proud of that because that really expanded the university’s opportunities for students.”
Allen’s accomplishments also include extensive development of SU’s programs available to all students.
“I’m proud as well of getting the Honors College established,” Allen said, “because I think that we had a great honors program to begin with but having the college designation will help us continue to bring really great students to Salisbury.”
Allen began her education as a public school teacher, an experience that would influence her as an educator for the rest of her career.
“When I first started teaching, I was working with high school students who were poor and who could not [read] or struggled with reading and that was a real eye-opener for me because I didn’t come from that background,” Allen said. “I wanted to work with those students who came to school less advantaged and without the support they needed and it just became my passion.”
Her passion for ensuring equal opportunities for all students is the very thing that brought her to the arena of higher education.
“I came into higher education because when you’re a teacher you get really frustrated that you cannot always bring about the change you want to bring, so I thought, maybe if I go to a university and I work with training teachers, that will make a bigger difference,” Allen said. “I thought, maybe if I were a dean, that would spread my influence so it really blossomed that way until I found this incredible opportunity here.”
Although she has been able to accomplish incredible deeds in the service of this university and its students, this job has not always been exactly as expected. However, she always managed to navigate it.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be as hard of a job as it was. There were moments when it was really challenging,” Allen said. “Any time you want to bring change to an institution, no matter what kind of change, even something simple.”
The motivation and vision require strength and a perception outside of one’s own perspective.
“You have to work with all the stakeholders and get their input before you move to make something happen,” Allen said. “You have to think about who would be impacted—the faculty, students, staff—and that takes a long time, so change doesn’t happen very quickly and that can be frustrating and challenging—more so than I anticipated.”
Allen really has achieved incredible things during her tenure at SU, but she also achieved a lot before she came here by devoting much of her life to public service and education.
Allen stated that students should “embrace the opportunities here on campus; opportunities to learn about your discipline, to learn about that world, to learn about other people, but most of all learn how to give back to your community. Don’t take for granted all of the great opportunities here. I also think if you embrace that curiosity that’s sort of natural about life, that will really help you all along the way.”
Although the loss of such an exemplar educator is a great loss to Salisbury University, Allen’s passion for fostering higher learning for all will not end with her retirement.
In retirement, she hopes to spend more time with her granddaughters but also to continue fighting for public education and those who need it most.