By C Aileen Blaine
The last few months have brought numerous changes to Youngstown State University, including the consolidation and rearrangement of departments and colleges. The university has also welcomed a few new faces, such as Jeffery Allen, the new dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services.
Allen is no rookie when it comes to working in higher education. Starting his career as a faculty member at Wright State University in Dayton, he worked his way up to the position of associate dean. He would then go on to serve as the founding dean at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. Holding a Ph.D in clinical psychology with focus in neuroscience and gerontology, Allen has worked with many specialists in a variety of health care fields.
Allen specializes in working with patients who have suffered strokes or brain injuries, and those who have cognitive difficulties. He’s worked with physical, occupational and speech therapists, as well as nurses, physicians, social workers and other human service providers. he’s had many collaborations with doctors over the years in the transdisciplinary training of students, including the chair of the geriatrics department at Wright State, where he helped add to the gerontologic program offerings for students.
“Transdisciplinary training increased the visibility of geriatrics and gerontology as a career,” Allen said. He hopes to implement such growth to YSU.
One of the things he hopes to continue developing at YSU is the concept of multi- and transdisciplinary training within the Bitonte College. This vision consists of introducing students to specialists in various disciplines to help enrich the learning and client service environment and to potentially open the door to new career choices that may not have been originally considered.
“At YSU, there are many disciplines and potential for additional academic program opportunities and growth,” Allen said. “[The university] has done a good job with the rearrangement of the departments under Bitonte. I hope to get more disciplines involved in the curricular process and continue to recruit students.”
Allen also wants to continue partnering with the community, particularly through the Mercy Health Wick Primary Care Clinic open to non-students, to help faculty and students increase the number of clientele served. He believes that the additional departments to the Bitonte College will help it to do more in its service to the community.
He believes that COVID-19 will undoubtedly be a challenge for the college this semester.
“This fall we will have to remain very flexible,” Allen said, “but I want students to try to take advantage of a very perilous situation.” While the coronavirus may provide challenges for students, Allen also thinks that health and human services students may be fortunate to train for careers at the time of this pandemic. He hopes that students will be able to take the challenges that come and use them as an opportunity to “hit the ground running.”
“Who more than our students,” Allen said, “will be optimally trained to deal with COVID-19 and future public health challenges?”