Professor Jonathon Allen appointed Dean of St Mark’s College

An experienced university educator with a strong commitment to supporting students, Professor Jonathon Allen, has been appointed Dean of St Mark’s College in succession to Dr Andrés Villamizar, who has stood down due to ill health.

The Dean plays a central role in the College’s support for students, which has been expanded significantly this year with the appointment of Mr Stuart Meldrum to the new position of Director of Wellbeing, Dr Katrina Stats as Director of Learning, and Dr Rachel Buxton to the new role of Adviser and Special Projects.

From 2016 to 2021, Professor Allen was the Head of The Academy at Western Sydney University (WSU), an award-winning inter-disciplinary program for high-achieving students which grew under his leadership to supporting nearly 5,000 students. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at WSU.

Professor Allen was previously the Provost, or head, of WSU’s Penrith campus, and has been an academic in the field of industrial design in universities in the UK (Loughborough), New Zealand (Massey), and at Monash University in Melbourne, as well as at WSU. He is a widely-published researcher, with a particular interest in design’s role in addressing social and environmental concerns.

Jonathon Allen’s First Class Honours degree in Design and Technology, and his PhD (on using design to empower people with severe communications disabilities), were both undertaken at Loughborough University in England.

Amongst a great deal else, he has served on the WSU Vice-Chancellor’s Gender Equality Committee and Environmental Sustainability Advisory Group, is an accredited Mental Health First Aider, and has trained as an accidental counsellor.

Jonathon has said: “I started my university experience living in halls of residence at Loughborough University, UK, and as a student was elected to the Hall’s Committee, where we collaboratively organised Hall events such as formal balls, social events, charity fundraisers, and welcomes for new students.

“That supportive and nurturing experience has remained with me, and in my university career my teaching, leadership and governance roles have also included pastoral care, student experience, extra-curricular academic support, tutorials and events, as well as University community development.

“My proudest achievements are those of my students, not in a vicarious fashion, but a genuine interest and pride in making a difference to their lives and those that they go on to impact.”

Jonathon Allen’s student-centred approach as a university teacher and academic leader has been reflected in his strong commitment to student wellbeing, experience, and development. Amongst much else, he expanded opportunities for WSU students to have residential experience overseas, including in South Africa and various countries in Asia, including through the New Colombo Plan.

He is looking forward with enthusiasm to embracing all aspects of College life, and to working with students at St Mark’s, including our excellent student leaders, to help offer all students the best all-round educational experience possible.

The Dean of St Mark’s College is integral to the effective functioning and thriving of the College residential community. The Dean is responsible for fostering a vibrant and engaged student body with a strong culture of inclusion and respect, nurturing student leadership skills, and overseeing student discipline. The Dean is also responsible for overseeing the College Calendar of student-related events and activities, for the smooth running of day-to-day student life and its associated operations, and for security and emergency procedures outside business hours.

The Head of College, Professor Don Markwell, said that Jonathon Allen’s commitment to working with students and to creating the best possible opportunities for them, combined with his warm and friendly approach, were very impressive.

“Everyone who has met him looks forward with enthusiasm to Jonathon joining and helping to lead the St Mark’s community”, he said.

Professor Jonathon Allen will move into residence in the College and commence as Dean on 23 April.