Marilou Allen 1933–2017
The former director of Haverford's Women*s Center and 8th Dimension died Dec. 9.
Marilou Allen, who served the Haverford College community for over 30 years by supporting students on campus and connecting them to community service opportunities, died Dec. 9, 2017. She was 84.
"Marilou was keeper of the Haverfordian flame, embodiment of the community's highest form of consciousness, and guardian of our best conscience," said College President Kim Benston. "But she was also wicked funny and didn't take no mess. Altogether, she was one of the most beautiful human beings that I've ever had the privilege to know."
Allen joined Haverford's staff in 1981 for what was supposed to be an 18-month appointment as the director of 8th Dimension, the College's community outreach office. She stayed for 34 years. In 1982 she was tasked with founding the Haverford College Women*s Center, and she worked directing both offices until her 2015 retirement.
Created as the College transitioned into a co-educational institution, the Women*s Center served as an important support for female students in the previously all-male environment and provided a place on campus focused on issues of gender, sexuality, sexual health, and women's rights. As its mission evolved into serving students across the gender spectrum and became more intersectional, Allen made sure its services, programming, and resources, grew with it.
"Because of Marilou and the visionary leaders at the College in the 1980s, the Women*s Center [became] an important space and voice for women entering a historically male institution," said Associate Director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship Janice Lion back in 2013 when Allen was honored with the National Women's Studies Association's Founders Award. "Marilou provided that voice."
Allen's relationship with Haverford, however, goes back many years before she became an integral member of its administration. A lifelong Ardmore resident, she first worked on campus cleaning professor's houses. In 1964 she helped launch Serendipity Day Camp, an inexpensive summer camp for local families that was—and is today—held on campus. She served as the camp's director from 1984 until her retirement.
"I think her legacy is Serendipity Day Camp," said Patricia Rawlings, who first met Allen when her children attended the camp and who later became her administrative assistant at the College for 16 years. "She worked so hard to provide the day camp experience to all of the children in the surrounding communities, especially those who could not afford to go to the regular day camps. No matter how little a family could afford, they were always welcome at camp."
During her tenure at Haverford, Allen also served as one of the College's Equal Opportunity Employment officers and Affirmative Action officers. In those roles she was an invaluable resource for staff and a force for equality across the community.
"She was a true advocate for equal rights for the employees," said Rawlings.
Allen attended nearby Lower Merion High School and earned her B.A. and M.A. from Antioch University. She also earned her MSLP from Bryn Mawr College's Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. In addition to her work at Haverford, she was director of program services of the Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia for seven years, and her decades of extensive volunteer work included work with the Girl Scouts as well as From All Walks of Life, Eldernet/Lower Merion Coalition of Aging, the United Way, and the Ardmore Avenue Community Center.
Allen is survived by five children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. A celebration of her life will be held in the west wing of the Dining Center from 1:00–4:00 p.m. on Jan. 20, and all are welcome.