Note: At its Dec. 6 Women in Business Breakfast, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce named twelve Women of Distinction for 2020. In recognition of their achievements, the Morning Sun will be publishing profiles of each Woman of Distinction.

PITTSBURG — In 1999, Dr. Cynthia Allan moved to Pittsburg to take on a new role as director of theatre for Pittsburg State University. Two decades later, she still holds that position, but also now serves as chair of the Department of Communication.

Since Allan became department chair in 2007, there have been many changes to both PSU’s communications program and the media industries that the department trains its students to work in when they finish school.

“We’ve reshaped our curriculum,” Allan said.

Instead of separate public relations and advertising emphases, PSU’s communications department now has a combined strategic communication emphasis students can choose to pursue, and instead of different types of journalism the department now offers a multimedia journalism emphasis.

“So that’s kind of my responsibility is to work with the faculty and for all of us to move forward in figuring out what do we need to do, how can we stay strong for the next, you know, 20 years,” Allan said, “because things do change.”

Allan has lived in many areas of the country, including South Dakota, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio, teaching, working as a lighting designer and freelance director, as well as earning degrees including a B.A. from Florida Southern College, an M.A. in Theatre Arts from Florida State University, and a Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama from the University of Georgia.

When Allan found out she would be getting one of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Women of Distinction Awards, “it was very shocking,” she said.

“I spend the majority of my career behind the scenes, and running programs and trying to make sure that my faculty and my students, you know, can show themselves in the best light possible, so I was just a little bit flabbergasted,” she said. “But that was my initial reaction and after that I felt incredibly grateful to be recognized and also to feel as if I have really become part of the Pittsburg community.”

Allan has lived in various small towns, and there some small towns “that make sure that you always kind of feel like the outsider if you’re not from there, but Pittsburg isn’t like that,” she said. “And that’s one reason I made a commitment early on to stay in Pittsburg, because I felt like I could really make a home here.”

Allan said it is wonderful that the Chamber gives out Women of Distinction awards annually.

“I think there are a lot of people who have been recognized through their efforts, and that’s also a very gratifying thing in a small town,” she said. She also thanked her PSU colleagues.

“I feel very appreciative of the Communication faculty for trusting me for so many years to kind of keep us all going.”