This week, Explorers had their first opportunity to meet La Salle University’s 30th President.
Daniel J. Allen, Ph.D., visited campus for the first time since a Feb. 1 announcement introduced him as the University’s President-elect. He met with Philadelphia media. He greeted students while walking through the Union Food Court at the lunch rush. He spoke with others at Connelly Library. He scheduled sit-down conversations—and less-formal meet-and-greets—with Christian Brothers, students, faculty, and staff.
In other words, he experienced campus life at 20th and Olney.
“I can’t tell you how humbled I am, how privileged I am, to be named the next president of La Salle University,” said Allen, whose presidency begins April 18.
“I have a very ambitious agenda and vision for this university,” he continued. “We are going to take our talented students, create and strengthen this inclusive and diverse environment, and promote a rigorous curriculum where academic excellence matters. Our students will leave us educated to lead, prepared to lead in their careers and communities, and prepared to take on complex problems.”
Allen spoke for 17 minutes at his Feb. 14 press conference, explaining in detail why he chose La Salle.
He outlined a professional career spent largely in Catholic higher education, including four years at fellow Lasallian institution Lewis University. He discussed his personal embrace of the Lasallian charism and his shared commitment to civic engagement and supporting underrepresented populations. He called attention to the professional outcomes achieved by La Salle students and the University’s strong reputation nationally for the return on investment of a La Salle degree.
In particular, he pointed to La Salle’s core values, mission, and heritage.
“My career, in terms of what I’ve done with my academic scholarship, was informed by my experience with the Christian Brothers (at Lewis)—their concern for the marginalized and their concern for underrepresented populations, and their concern for providing access to an excellent post-secondary education,” Allen said. “The Lasallian charism drew me to this opportunity and it’s terribly special. But what does that look like? It’s civic engagement, it’s matters of social justice, … and, again, providing access. The Christian Brothers are teachers and excellence in teaching matters. We are, first and foremost, about teaching, learning, and scholarship. What they have done is important to me.”
Allen discussed the role today of higher education. Universities, he said, must not merely award degrees. The college experience must challenge students, engage a diverse community, and embrace diversity of thought, Allen said. He views La Salle as a provider of rigorous curriculum designed to prepare graduates to address the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s workforce and world.
He remarked on La Salle’s impressive legacy of providing graduates with social and economic mobility. “I would argue this is a more-accurate representation of how colleges and universities should be judged,” Allen said.
Perhaps fittingly, Allen closed out his welcome remarks by alluding to all who are welcome at La Salle.
“If you want to do the work at this university, if you care about the things we care about as Lasallians—social justice, concern for the underrepresented, concern for communities and people who find themselves on the margin—welcome,” Allen said. “There’s a big welcome sign above the door. We want you to be a part of our community and we’re going to challenge you to do that in a rigorous way.”
—Christopher A. Vito