New Department Chair for Leadership and Teacher Education Returns to Alabama after Global Experiences

Posted on October 10, 2022 by CEPS

Dr. Allday outside on campus. data-lightbox='featured'

The University of South Alabama College of Education and Professional Studies welcomes Dr. R. Allan Allday as its new chair for the Department of Leadership and Teacher Education. Allday has had many experiences teaching and mentoring around the globe, and now he returns to work in his home state for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Originally from Fulton, Alabama, Allday is a first-generation college graduate. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, master’s in special education and doctoral degree in special education with a minor in school psychology, all from Auburn University. He earned his Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) certification in 2011 and is now a licensed behavior analyst in Alabama. 

Upon earning his master’s degree and obtaining a teaching certificate, Allday jumped right into teaching. He worked as a special education teacher at W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley, Alabama. 

During his doctoral studies at Auburn, Allday worked in the university's Department of Rehabilitation and Special Education as a graduate teaching assistant, supervisor of field experiences, and as assistant director for the Summer Learning Clinic. 

After earning a Ph.D., Allday accepted a position as an assistant professor of special education at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He then moved to Oklahoma State University and served as an assistant professor of special education. While at Oklahoma State, Allday was awarded his first Fulbright Scholar grant.

As a Fulbright Scholar, Allday traveled to Borys Grinchenko Kyiv Municipal Pedagogical University in Ukraine and served as a member of the faculty in social pedagogy. He primarily taught courses to future teachers, social workers and psychologists about children with problem behaviors. Allday also consulted with a rehabilitation center for children with disabilities and worked with various schools and families in the Kyiv and Lviv communities.

“Ukraine was not on my bucket list of places to visit,” Allday said. “However, it was a really good experience for my wife and I, and I continued going back there through 2014, when the conflict over Crimea began. I was placed in situations that were outside of my comfort zone, which caused me to grow as a person and professional. I realized the need for services for children with disabilities who have challenging behaviors was universal. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Ukraine.”

In 2011, Allday accepted a position as assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Education in the Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Counselor Education. In 2014, he was promoted to associate professor, and in 2016, he started a joint appointment as an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.

“I think that my experience with developmental behavioral pediatrics is cool because I don't know that most people think about teacher education and medicine working together,” Allday said. “We were able to help a lot of children with behavior problems that weren’t always helped by medicinal interventions. While working in collaboration with pediatrics, we were able to meet the needs of families that would have otherwise not received any services to help with challenging behaviors.”

Allday also served as founding director of the University of Kentucky’s Applied Behavior Analysis graduate program. This led to him co-founding the Center for Applied Behavioral Supports at the University, which serves children and youths with severe challenging behaviors and their families. He worked with the Women and Philanthropy Network, a group that provides grants to professors, to help his students pay for college tuition. In return, the students worked with Allday at the behavioral clinic and learned the skills needed to consult with families. Students offer their services at the clinic free of charge, teaching parents how to reduce their child’s behavioral problems.

During Allday’s tenure at Kentucky, he worked with a student from Ukraine who had received a Fulbright award to complete a graduate degree in the United States. Allday had worked with the student in Lviv. Also while at Kentucky, Allday was awarded a second Fulbright Scholar grant to travel to the University of Sopron in Hungary. He was a member of the Benedek Elek Faculty of Pedagogy.

“The Fulbright experience in Hungary was both professionally and personally satisfying,” Allday said. “I was able to teach courses at the university and provide consultation for teachers who were managing challenging behaviors. Personally, it was very special because I was able to take my family with me. This was powerful for me due to my experiences as a child in rural Alabama. As a child, coming to Mobile was a big outing. However, my children have had the opportunity to see things that I only read about as a child.”

Allday has been an active researcher, with nearly 40 peer-reviewed journal articles. He has presented his research at more than 100 venues, from local schools to international conferences. His research has focused on strategies for dealing with problem behavior. Allday has worked with children with and without disabilities as well as the adults in their lives to help manage behavior. He has worked with hospitals, school districts, universities and orphanages across the world. 

“Working with children with challenging behavior can be difficult,” he said. “Helping families is such an important thing because, as parents, you never know what you’re going to get. Every parent has hopes for what their child will do. No one wants or hopes to have a child that is extraordinarily aggressive. When this happens, reality hits, and as parents, they don’t know what to do. It is such a blessing to be able to empower parents to help their children through interventions they can carry out in their homes.

“I’ve done workshops and training about problem behavior in so many different settings. You realize how universal it is for people to struggle to understand and manage problem behaviors.”

Though his motivation for returning to Alabama was to be closer to his family, Allday has many plans for his time at South. He’s most passionate about involving the community in departmental research and projects. He hopes to get his faculty involved in local schools for hands-on research opportunities. Allday also plans to work closely with his faculty to help them realize their potential.

“I really enjoy bringing the community into what we’re doing. There’s this misconception about higher education – that we just sit around and think deep thoughts. But we actually do a lot of really practical things. There is so much potential here at South to positively impact our community and get our community involved in what we are doing.”

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