By Chip Chandler
West Texas A&M University’s departing assistant vice president of academic affairs has nothing but faith in her successor. That’s only right: Their connection goes back decades.
Susan Allen officially enters retirement at the end of the day, capping a 21-year history with West Texas A&M University and a 35-year history in education in Canyon.
Stepping into her shoes is Melissa Reyher White, currently senior coordinator of undergraduate business programs in the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business.
Allen, a WT alumna, began her career in education as an English teacher at Canyon High School before shifting gears to teach mathematics at Valleyview Junior High. She served as assistant principal at Canyon High from 1998 to 2000 before joining WT’s Department of Education, where she was director for Panhandle Alternative Certification for Educators (PACE) and served as the certification officer for all educator preparation programs in the department.
“I am proud of the work we did with school districts around the area to meet their staffing needs,” Allen said. “And I was able to work with all of the colleges across campus because nearly all of them offer teaching certificates.”
Moving into the Academic Affairs office — first under former Provost Dr. Wade Shaffer, then under current Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Neil Terry — allowed her to continue working as a “champion of WT,” she said.
“We will miss Susan and the professional and kind attitude she has demonstrated throughout her long career at WT,” Terry said. “We are grateful for her contributions to both Academic Affairs and the University as a whole.”
“Susan has been a reliable resource for our office and across the University for two decades,” said Dr. Amy Andersen, associate provost. “She overhauled processes and forms used in Academic Affairs which made procedures a bit easier and more accessible for everyone. She worked diligently with The Texas A&M University System, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to ensure that WT was following all the guidelines required by those entities.”
“Susan was an integral part of the team in the Provost Office and quickly earned the respect of everyone she worked with,” Shaffer said. “She has a keen eye for detail, is an outstanding copy editor, and made coming to work every day enjoyable. Her work to advance the mission of the University is laudable.”
Allen’s association with White dates back years: “Melissa and my younger daughter, Emily Warren, graduated high school together, and I knew her when I was assistant principal at Canyon High. Fortunately, she was never in my office,” Allen said.
“I have known Susan for many years, and I am excited to continue her legacy here,” White said. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to follow her and to hopefully make the same kind of positive impact on campus that she has.”
White said she “bleeds maroon”: Her immediate family holds 12 degrees from WT (two for herself, in fact), and “from the time I was in third grade, I wanted to work at WT.”
“I came here from White Deer for a basketball summer camp, and it was like coming to the big city. I remember walking around Cousins Hall and the Box and thinking that someday, this was where I wanted to be,” White said.
White previously has worked in the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities as community outreach and event coordinator.
“I’ve been given many opportunities in the colleges I’ve worked in to have an impact on that level,” White said. “Now, I am excited to work on the University level and work with colleagues across WT to find solutions and fulfill our mission and vision.”
“I feel very confident in Melissa,” Allen said. “WT will be in good hands.”