Janice McCabe named new Allen House professor

by Megan Clyne | 6/22/17 11:30pm

Sociology professor Janice McCabe will begin her new role as the Allen House professor on July 1, following engineering professor Jane Hill’s dismissal from the position in April.

As Allen House professor, McCabe said she hopes to help students branch out while making sure they are comfortable, in addition to fostering stability and continuity.

McCabe added she is eager to begin her role, as well as to integrate both the academic and social aspects of student life.

“I’m thrilled about it,” McCabe said. “It’s a great way to be more involved in student life and strengthen our intellectual community.”

She said she intends to program a diverse array of events, such as an ice cream social for the Allen House community next week, intramural sports and fireside chats with visiting professors.

Allen House executive council member and residence hall undergraduate advisor Allison Green ’19 said that she is optimistic about the future of Allen House with its new community member. She is excited to welcome McCabe to Allen House and believes McCabe will make a strong leader.

Eric Chen ’17, another member of the Allen House executive council, said that McCabe’s research on friendship makes her an ideal professor for the position, due to the fact that community building is one of the core principles of the new housing system.

McCabe believes that friendships are significant for social and academic purposes. Yet there is relatively little scholarly attention paid to college student relationships, she said. She hopes to use her research as a platform to help students foster their own friendships and connect to the entire Allen house community.

“[McCabe] is incredibly passionate about the housing system,” Green said. “She wants to get to know students and make it work.”

McCabe’s ability to establish connections with students will help her in the role, associate dean of residential life and director of residential education Mike Wooten said in an email.

In April, Dean of the College Rebecca Biron announced via email that Hill would no longer no longer serve as Allen House professor. The dismissal was not voluntary, according to Hill.

Chen said that Hill’s dismissal was an upsetting occurrence for many people.

“The administration was not transparent about what happened, and she left big shoes to fill,” Chen said.

As part of the selection process, student leaders in Allen House had the opportunity to participate in finalist interviews and meet the three prospective candidates for the position during scheduled lunches and dinners.

During the spring term, assistant director of residential education for Allen House Lauren Oliver served both as house director and assistant director. Though Oliver did a “great job,” it was challenging to plan events without the guidance of a professor who could make executive decisions, Green said. For example, the council was interested in launching an Instagram account for the house, but were unsure if the future house professor would agree with that decision.

“We were in a state of limbo about what decisions we could and couldn’t make,” Green said.

Green is excited to introduce McCabe to Allen House members on campus this summer and the rest of the student body in the fall, she said.