We asked . . . Allison Dean Love
Q: How did you become the first voting female member of The Citadel's Board of Visitors?
A: I graduated from The Citadel Graduate College with a master's degree in business administration in 1993. I loved the school and wanted to give something back, so I stayed involved. I still keep in touch with my first professor.
In 1997, I was selected as a nonvoting member of the board. Then, I was elected by the General Assembly as the first female voting member of the board in 2000.
Six people were vying for two open spots on the board, and I beat Maj. Gen. Arthur Baiden and landed one of them.
Baiden was then selected by The Citadel Alumni Association, the group chooses three of the 11 members, and is now the board's chairman.
Q: What's it like being the only woman on the board?
A: At a meeting earlier this month, I looked around and realized I am often the only woman in a room with 25 men. I usually don't even notice it. I don't think of myself as representing women. I represent The Citadel Graduate College and the overall mission of The Citadel.
But I know I've changed during my service on the board. When I first came on as a nonvoting member, I was only 32 years old. Like a lot of younger women, I was too easily intimidated and worried too much about what other people thought. I've grown a lot over the years.
Q: You were originally opposed to women being admitted to the Corps of Cadets. How do think things are going now after women have been enrolling for more than a decade?
A: We've all come a long way. We've had many amazing young women graduate since Nancy Mace in 1999. Females now make up about 6.5 percent of the Corps of Cadets. We're very proud female cadets have assumed prominent leadership positions and hold high rank in the Corps. The regimental executive officer, Brittany Nagle, filled in for the regimental commander at parade earlier this month and did an excellent job. Tara Woodside, who graduated last year, and I spent a lot of time together talking about potential positions for her in public affairs.
I've spent a lot of time with many of the female cadets over the years, and I have so much respect for what they have chosen to go through. I applaud anyone, male or female, for choosing to be in the Corps. It's not easy and not meant for everyone, but nothing worthwhile is easy.
Q: What are three adjectives that best describe you?
A: Driven, dedicated and mission-oriented
Q: What are your goals for serving on the board?
A: I want to get students and alumni of The Citadel Graduate College more involved in the school. And, I want to give back to The Citadel.
Q: Tell us about a memorable moment at The Citadel.
A: Last May at graduation, Shirley Bryan, a 1976 graduate of The Citadel Graduate College, handed a diploma to her daughter, Margaret Bryan, who was graduating from the Corps of Cadets. They were the first mother-daughter pair to participate as legacies in the commencement ceremony, and it was the first time a graduate of the Graduate College handed out a diploma. The Bryans had to get special permission from the board to do it, and I pushed and lobbied the board on Shirley's behalf. It was a very emotional moment. I think it was at that moment I realized I truly have made a difference in my time here.
Q: What's the best thing about The Citadel?
A: The school teaches students to be principled leaders. It produces military and business leaders. I feel very strongly about our mission and how more and more it is vital to Charleston, the state and the nation.
Q: If you could change one thing about the school, what would it be?
A: I would have 100 percent of alumni giving something back. I think many of them don't know about the school's troubled financial situation after it has suffered large state budget cuts.
Q: What surprises you about The Citadel?
A: There are so many good people here. But occasionally you find some alumni whose attitudes have not changed at all, like worrying about a female haircut and not the larger mission.
Q: What's your favorite quote?
A: "If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time and you would achieve nothing."
Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990