Joseph P. Allen, USC’s popular dean of admissions and financial aid and vice provost for enrollment whose open-door policy made him a friend and a mentor to many students, died of a cerebral hemorrhage, April 4, in New York City. He was 53.
Allen, a nationally known and respected figure in university admissions, suffered the stroke March 24 while attending an ad missions reception in Manhattan.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by Joe’s untimely death,” said President Steven B. Sample. “He deserves much of the credit for our success as a university through his imaginative and diligent approach to student recruitment.
“I have never known a university administrator who was as widely loved and respected by the academic community as Joe Allen,” added Sample.
Michael L. Jackson, vice president of student affairs, will serve as acting dean of admissions and financial aid and vice provost for enrollment.
As dean/vice provost, Allen was responsible for coordinating and directing the university’s total enrollment effort, including the managing and planning of student recruitment, admissions and financial aid policies, student application processing and student aid. In addition, he was responsible for communicating USC’s special strengths and qualities to potential students and parents, as well as to continuing students, alumni, faculty and staff.
“Joe Allen was a crucial force behind USC’s spectacular climb to the upper tier of American re search universities over the past 10 years,” said Provost Lloyd Armstrong Jr. “But he will be missed most because of the warm, positive individual he was. It was these character traits – and his keen sense of what works best – that made him so successful.”
Although Allen scoured the country for the best and brightest candidates for each freshman class, he also kept his eye out for candidates who had potential.
“There are a lot of kids out there who are extremely bright and worthy, but who have faced insurmountable odds,” Allen said in a January interview. “I’m always available to talk to these kids and tell them what they need to do for us to consider their application.”
In 1998, Karl Reid was one of those students. The Oakland, Calif., native worked a full-time job to support himself while attending high school, and his grades were only average. Reid’s guidance counselor encouraged Allen to meet with Reid.
“I knew after one conversation with Karl that he was special,” Allen said.
Reid – who was admitted to USC in 1999, and this year was accepted to the School of Cinema-Television – stayed in close touch with Allen.
“Joe was a friend and a mentor,” Reid said. “Anytime I was faced with a big decision, I called Joe. He’s was always there for me. He was a one-of-a-kind person.”
Allen came to USC in 1993. Prior to that, he served as dean of admissions/special assistant to the chancellor at UC Santa Cruz from 1985 to 1993. He joined UC Santa Cruz in 1973 as assistant dean of students, became director of its Gateway Project in 1976, associate director of admissions in 1978 and director of admissions in 1980.
Allen served from 1980 to 1992 as co-director of the College Board Summer Institute on College Admissions. From 1988 to 1992, he was a member of the National Advisory Panel of the College Board Study of Admission to American Colleges and Universities. He served as program chair of the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors from 1989 to 1990.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Allen was a member of numerous professional organizations, including the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors, the College Board’s board of trustees, and the National School Boards Association.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Jose State University in 1970 and his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of California at Berkeley in 1972.
Allen is survived by his son, Brooks; a brother, Bill; and his twin sister, Paula. A celebration of his life will take place in Bovard Auditorium in early May.