Judith Allen '55: Honoring a Bryant professor
If not for the perceptive Bryant professor who encouraged Judith Allen ’55 to reach beyond her comfort zone, she might not have completed the secretarial diploma program. The shy daughter of Italian immigrants wouldn’t have had the skills and confidence to progress from a clerical position at Rhode Island Hospital to Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Public Relations. She wouldn’t have subsequently earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Rhode Island. And she couldn’t have leveraged her experience and passion for the arts to become a pioneer in designing, restoring, and managing prominent performing arts venues.
To honor the professor who had such a singular impact in her life, Allen has established the Leger R. Morrison Endowed Internship Fund with a $50,000 pledge. A faculty member at Bryant for nearly 40 years, Morrison retired in 1972 and died in 2017 at age 95. Allen’s gift was made in support of Expanding the World of Opportunity: The Campaign for Bryant’s Bold Future.
He changed my life. That’s the immeasurable impact faculty can have on their students’ lives.
VALUE OF INTERNSHIPS
As a businessperson and current faculty member at College of Charleston (SC), Allen respects the value students bring to often unpaid internship assignments. In consultation with Bryant leaders, including Kevin Gaw, executive director of the Amica Center for Career Education, Allen created the fund to provide a need-based stipend to a student pursuing a summer internship with an arts, cultural, or non-profit organization.
“Internships are a rewarding and defining student experience, clarifying career goals and pathways,” notes Gaw. “Students who complete an internship are more likely to land a job offer, and those who complete a paid internship are more likely to command a higher starting salary. Judith’s incredible gift will help Bryant students with financial need leverage the power of the internship and create a solid foundation for career success.”
WHAT GLASS CEILING?
The internship focus reflects Allen’s inspiring career. Her classical education and early exposure to the construction industry as Rhode Island Hospital was built, positioned her for career-long success in construction management for performing arts facilities – a role few women have undertaken.
“If it wasn’t for Leger, I never would have reached where I am today,” explains Allen. “Without his advice and counsel, I would have assumed the glass ceiling was there. Because of him, I didn’t see the glass ceiling and just kept going.”
One enduring piece of advice from Morrison truly shaped Allen’s life. “He advised re-evaluating your life, personally and professionally every five years,” recalls Allen. “And if you are not progressing, make a change, hard as it may be. The life I’ve had was the result of his counsel. He changed my life. That’s the immeasurable impact faculty can have on their students’ lives.”