The Rev. Justin Allen, D.Min., a member of the Shenandoah University Division of Student Life since 2011, has been named assistant vice president for student life. Since joining the university, Allen has served as dean of spiritual life and director of the Institute for Church Professions.
This announcement coincides with the professional development leave of Vice President for Student Life Rev. Rhonda VanDyke Colby, D.Min., which runs from Sept. 3, through Oct. 19. In her absence, Allen will oversee divisional administrative matters and forward the vision of the Division of Student Life.
“I am excited to have this opportunity to serve the students at Shenandoah University, and I look forward to working with our incredible faculty and staff to provide a challenging and educational atmosphere for our students both inside and outside of the classroom,” said Dr. Allen. “I am blessed with colleagues, peers and mentors at Shenandoah University that will walk this pilgrimage with me. I hope and pray that I will be able to aptly fill the chasm left by Rhonda’s absence, but I am also excited to challenge myself and learn new ways of answering my call to the campus community.”
Since arriving at Shenandoah, Allen has strengthened existing initiatives and created new ones within the Office of Spiritual Life and the Institute for Church Professions (ICP).
“When my responsibility at Shenandoah shifted from dean of spiritual life to vice president for student life, I had the unusual opportunity to hire and then supervise my successor,” said Rev. VanDyke Colby. “Justin, a ministerial colleague, soon became a trusted leader, colleague and ally on campus. He has proven to be a big picture person and is not content with siloed thinking. He looks for cross campus connections, seeks to improve existing processes, collaborates broadly, and keeps before us the values of Shenandoah’s historic Wesleyan and Methodist roots.”
Allen creatively led the effort to structure ICP funds to be a source of ongoing programmatic funds for regional, national and global travel and study opportunities for students. As a result, Shenandoah University students have traveled to both the 2012 and 2016 quadrennial legislative gathering of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference, as well as to the monastic communities in Iona, Scotland, and Taize, France.
He spearheaded the acquisition of a $600,000 grant from from Lilly Endowment Inc., establishing the Shenandoah University Youth Theology Institute, in partnership with Wesley Theological Seminary and the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
In addition, Allen and his wife, Alethea Allen, M.D., a pediatrician who also holds a master’s degree in theological studies, host Home Sweet Home, an opportunity for Shenandoah students visit their Winchester home for snacks and conversation each week during the school year. The series’ purpose is for students to feel they have a home away from home where they can go, relax, and be themselves.
Under his leadership, the Faith Seeking Justice Christian Leadership Program continues to focus on global-minded justice, and aims to prepare and empower individuals who are committed to spiritual depth and social justice as an integral aspect of ministry in a global context.
Allen also oversees Calling 21, a young adult local church internship program for college students that trains them on the university’s campus and then, for a summer, immerses the students in the life of a church. It is a partnership ministry between the Virginia United Methodist Conference Center for Clergy Excellence, the cabinet and Shenandoah University.
Allen, along with a dedicated Spiritual Life staff, provide two worship service opportunities on the university’s campus – University Chapel at Noon (UC@N) and Wednesday Night Live (WNL). UC@N is held each Sunday at noon and combines ancient and emerging, diverse and unified, safe and challenging, artful and thoughtful, playful and profound elements, while WNL is a unique, student-led, late-night service that offers fellowship, worship and a house band, and refreshes, invigorates and revives the soul.
Allen serves on University Cabinet, the decision-making body for university, where faculty, staff, student and community needs intersect. He is also a member of the university’s Behavioral Consultation Team, where at the same time, he stewards his confidential pastoral role and adeptly serves as a student advocate. Allen is a natural collaborator who can reach across institutional departmental lines to serve the best interests of individual students, staff and faculty.
He enjoys teaching in the classroom and has taught courses such as “The Global Context of Christian Leadership in the 21st Century,” “Skin Deep: The Walking Dead and the Ethics of Humanity,” and “The Global Religion of Professional Athletics.” Allen was elected to the Virginia Conference Board of Ordained Ministry in 2012, which oversees the selection, credentialing and supervision of United Methodist clergy across the Commonwealth. He serves on the executive committee as vice chair, and in the past, has served as extension ministries chair and chair of the Vocation & Leadership and Personal Growth & Development committees.
Prior to joining Shenandoah, Allen served as the pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Nokesville, Virginia. He also previously served as executive director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Memphis.
Allen holds a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in religion and philosophy from Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a member of the Virginia Conference.