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In December 2020, WRTC said goodbye to a favorite. Professor Cindy Allen, who taught professional editing and served as WRTC internship coordinator and advisor for the minor, retired from JMU. To say Allen was a favorite among WRTC students is an understatement. Professor Karen McDonnell, whose office was across from Allen’s, noted the steady stream of students (current and former) coming to see her. “They [knew] they’d find a receptive ear and gentle guidance [from her]” commented McDonnell.

WRTC student Sabryn Dotson, who took WRTC 300: Professional Editing with Allen, described her as one of the most “kind, knowledgeable professors” she has had at JMU. Dotson explained how much Allen helped her with her internship and put her at ease when faced with the rather intimidating task of finding an internship provider. “I went into her office for the first time feeling overwhelmed and frazzled…but by the time I left [her] office, I felt relieved...” WRTC senior Leah Coffey likewise appreciated Allen’s support as well as the “encouraging messages” Allen ended her emails with when corresponding with students. 

Allen’s fun-loving, spirited nature was especially appreciated by her colleagues. Karen McDonnell, Kevin Jefferson, and Cynthia Martin had offices next to Allen’s in the small hallway Allen named “The Pod.” “We have a sense of community in the Pod and Cindy Allen was always at the center. She’d bounce in every morning with a smile on her face as if she was ready to conquer the world through kindness. In the afternoons, she’d cut up with whoever happened to walk by, always eager to share a joke or a cup of tea,” commented Martin.  

Allen joined JMU in 1997 as a staff member in the Graduate School. While working full-time, she enrolled in the graduate program in the former Institute of Technical and Scientific Communication. After completing her graduate degree in 2003, she was offered a full-time position teaching in the program. Over the years, she taught courses in technical communication, legal writing, and editing, and she collaboratively created and taught a course in advanced editing.

In addition to teaching and coordinating the internship for WRTC, Allen was also committed to improving the writing of the members of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, working with colleagues to edit their applications for SCHEV’s teacher of the year and giving workshops for staff members, members of the Harrisonburg Fire Department, and more.

Although Allen has officially retired, she has been granted emeritus status, which means she is able to teach courses on an as-needed basis. She has also continued to work with students completing internships as Dr. Elizabeth Pass transitions into that role. Coffey was surprised and pleased Allen has still made herself available to help students this semester. “I reached out in January regarding a snag [with an internship], and Professor Allen was so helpful even though she had officially retired.”

Allen plans to spend most of her time in retirement enjoying her family, that is, if she can stay away from WRTC!

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Published: Monday, March 15, 2021

Last Updated: Monday, March 15, 2021

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