Katherine R. Allen, professor of human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2015 Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising.

Established by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Academic Advising is presented annually by the Office of the Provost to Virginia Tech faculty members who have been particularly dedicated and effective while advising graduate students. Recipients, who may be nominated by university colleagues or students, are selected by a committee of former award winners, receive a $2,000 prize, and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Advising Excellence.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1989, Allen has developed a national reputation as a scholar and a mentor to graduate students.

“Students come to Virginia Tech to work with Dr. Allen because of her scholarly reputation and her reputation as an outstanding mentor,” Anisa Zvonkovic, professor and head of the Department of Human Development, wrote in her nomination letter.

In her time at Virginia Tech, Allen has chaired 38 doctoral degree or master’s degree student committees and has been a member of 117 other graduate student committees. “They also tend to work on topics that are controversial,” Zvonkovic said of the students Allen has worked with. “It is an extra burden on an advisor to work with students on these types of topics, to guide them through their positionality, and to model effective methods for working on troubling topics.”

Allen’s role as a graduate student advisor has been recognized several times in recent years at the departmental, college, and university levels. In addition, she received the competitive National Council on Family Relations’ Felix Berardo Mentoring Award from the primary professional organization in her discipline.

Allen’s own scholarship focuses on family diversity, family gerontology, feminist family studies, and LGBTQ families. About 40 percent of her published articles in scholarly journals have included her current or former students.

“My support for Katherine’s nomination can be summarized in one sentence: Whenever and wherever I hear the words mentor or mentoring, I immediately think of Katherine,” wrote one of her former graduate students, Karen Blaisure, now a faculty member at Western Michigan University. “Because of her advising and mentoring, I have had a career in academia and have had the privilege of encouraging others to earn an advanced degree and to teach. Because of Katherine, I know the joy of advising graduate students.”

Allen received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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