Adjectives like “remarkable” and “outstanding” don’t do justice to Dr. Edna Allen Dean’s impact on Longwood during her more than 30 years as a member of the social work faculty. So maybe it’s best to leave the task of describing her to some of the people who knew her best.
For example, Troy Littles ’84, one of the hundreds of students Dean mentored at Longwood: “Of all the faculty members here, Dr. Allen is the one who has given the most to African-American students. … Those were turbulent times, and she was one constant.”
And Melanie Littlejohn-Lee ’87, another of Dean’s students: “She was progressive, she was an advocate, a clinician, a problem solver and a lobbyist. She did not just touch our lives—she defined our lives.”
Littles and Littlejohn-Lee, along with Charlease McCauley Hatchett ’87, were the driving force behind the creation of an endowed scholarship named in Dean’s honor in 2001, and one of the major gifts came from NBA star Jerome Kersey ’84/’06.
Dean first taught at Longwood as an adjunct professor and then joined the faculty full time in 1980. By the time she retired in 2004, receiving emerita status in recognition of her contributions, she had become part of the fabric of the institution. She was director of field services for the social work program for nearly the entire length of her Longwood career and took on many other responsibilities, including serving as director of the Evolving Scholars Program; as a member of numerous committees, including the steering committee for a re-accreditation effort; and as coordinator for minority affairs and minority recruitment.
A licensed clinical social worker, she received a master’s degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from Union Graduate School.
She once wrote in a letter to The Rotunda that she came from “a long line of survivors, a blessed and capable people with the will and destiny to overcome.” Her former students would say she passed some of that determination along to them.
“She would hold your hand, tell you not to quit, not to go home,” said Littles.