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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Katherine R. Allen

By Nancy Templeman

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 27 - April 6, 1995

Katherine Allen, an associate professor in the Department of Family and Child Development, is known by both students and colleagues to be an excellent teacher, mentor, advisor, scholar, author, and researcher. In fact, she exemplifies all that being a professor is supposed to mean. Allen says, "I love teaching and enjoy participating in students' learning and growth. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and the mentoring aspects of teaching."

Students in the Gender Roles and Family Relationships undergraduate class attest that Allen's enjoyment makes her classes more valuable to them. A quote from one student's evaluation of Allen is typical of many others: "Dr. Allen is the most fabulous teacher I have ever had. She is fair and thoughtful and very respectful of her students. She takes a lot of time to help us and is always very accommodating....I've learned more in this class than I have in any other! I'd recommend everyone take her class!"

Those who take classes in the undergraduate Women's Studies Program also have the opportunity to study with Allen in the Women's Studies Seminar. Allen also teaches graduate-level courses in family and child development and women's studies.

The 45-50 students whom Allen advises each year know first-hand that she takes a personal interest in each of them. "It a privilege to be in a position to recognize and foster student talent," says Allen. Her students respond to that type of support by taking their talents beyond the university and out into the world where they have gone on to receive national recognition in their fields.

Her colleague and a previous Wine Award recipient, Marjorie Norton, associate professor and head of the Department of Clothing and Textiles, says it well: "Students and alumni describe the exuberance, subject-matter depth, and caring that Allen shows in her teaching and interactions with students. Allen is also nationally known as a writer of textbooks, as a first-rate scholar, and as a `teacher of teachers,' who is often asked to share her wisdom and insights with colleagues. She is know for her superlative classroom teaching and student mentoring; for her dedication to the continual enrichment of her own courses and of the curriculum within her department, indeed in the entire field; and for her formative influence on the family-studies knowledge base and on the ways knowledge is generated and transmitted in the educational process."

When one tries to talk to Allen about receiving recognition for her teaching, she turns the topic around so she can talk about her interaction with students--how much joy they give her as she teaches, mentors, and advises them, and how proud she is that they go on to be leaders in their fields.