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FunTimes Magazine

Dr. Brenda Allen

For Dr. Brenda Allen, being selected as the 14 president of Lincoln University represented adream come true and the pinnacle of herprofessional achievements thus far.

Ever since she graduated from Lincoln in 1981, Dr. Allen had aspirations of becoming president of her alma mater. Her dream came to fruition 37 years later when her mother and two sisters witnessed her installation ceremony in October 2017. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Lincoln University, and a master's degree in experimental psychology and a doctorate in developmental psychology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. “I've been gone since 1981 so coming back and seeing the growth has just been amazing but also having the opportunity to think about what's next to ensure that we endure for the next generation and beyond, is exciting,” Dr. Allen said during an interview at Lincoln's Chester County, Pennsylvania, based campus.

She came to Lincoln from Winston Salem State University (WSSU) in North Carolina where she served as provost and vice president of academic affairs. Dr. Allen led the revision of WSSU's curriculum, oversaw the establishment of the university's first two doctoral programs,

expanded undergraduate research funding, and restructured academic support to strengthen advising. She also created an Office of Faculty Affairs, strengthened standards for tenure and promotion, and helped raise more than $10 million for capital projects, scholarships and other student support.

Dr. Allen assumed her position as provost at WSSU in 2009 after serving six years as associate provost and director of institutional diversity at Brown University. Prior to that, Dr. Allen held a number of academic and administrative positions at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

The native of Newark, New Jersey, gave some insights to how she thrived in the Ivy League environment, as she reflected on her career highlights.

“A high point for me was getting my first tenure-track job and being one of only four or five Black professors there, after having been in predominately Black places my whole life and never feeling less than anybody,” she recalled.

“I realized that I was comfortable with myself and could also be comfortable with other people.

I learned that from the family I was born into but also from my experiences [Lincoln] and at Howard. You learn to not doubt yourself. “I realized how many other people of color struggle in those types of environments because they didn't have the benefit of the kind of nurturing and reinforcement that I received. I was very fortunate I could get to places like Smith College and Brown University and never doubt my ability to be successful,” Dr. Allen continued. “At some point in that Ivy League environment where I had all kinds of resources and opportunities, I sat back in my own quiet moments and said I have to go back to an HBCU.” Now Dr. Allen seeks to leave her mark on Lincoln. She said, during her tenure, she will focus on getting the university to a point where it is not so dependent on state funding and tuition to operate. “I am striving to reinvigorate the core of a Lincoln education — one that prepares graduates for leadership toward the goal of making contributions that speak to issues of social justice in a strong way. Then to leave that as the legacy of what we do, and in such a way that it is financially stable. Continually investing in this will keep our quality of education steadily rising,” Dr. Allen noted.

FunTimes is one of 19 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on the city’s push towards economic justice. This reporting was made possible with support from Resolve Philadelphia. To read more of our reporting please go to <>