English Professor Randal Allred’s commitment to improving students’ abilities and his dedication to the phrase, “words matter,” has left its mark on campus, according to close associates, as he celebrates closing his 26-year career at BYU-Hawaii.
“I hope I taught students that language matters in their lives, and that words and language are sacred tools, and our ability to use language and reason are proof that we are the children of God,” shared Allred.
According to him, it was challenging but stimulating teaching students from a dozen different countries in one small class.
After teaching a diverse student body, he shared how he learned “you can’t make any assumptions to what people know or how they connect to certain ideas. I tried to use that in the classroom. I tried to figure out where students are coming from to figure out how it relates to the remainder of the students.”
Instead of making assumptions, Allred said, he shifted towards a more adaptive teaching style.
“I try to use global examples, and as I learn more about my students, I try to use their unique perspectives to prompt cross-cultural discussions. Even something as simple as the color red has profoundly different meanings across the cultures represented in a single one of our classrooms.” Red in the western world is often associated with lust or anger he explained, but in China red is the color of good luck and joy, and in Tonga, red is the color of royalty and strength.
During his time at BYUH, Allred said he sat at the head of the Honors Department and aided the Honors Council with teaching leadership and instilling academic excellence to participants.
“I love teaching here mostly because I feel BYUH is the cutting edge of the global church. That’s not a new idea. Other people have had it, but it’s amazing to meet people here from so many countries who are literally pioneers.”
Quoting from his one-year reflection teaching in Laie written in 1995, Dr. Allred said, “When I see my students’ faces each day, when I get smiles and hellos from each faculty and staff person I meet (whether I know them or not), when students are nice to you even after the class is done and grades are filed, when I hear my wife say everyday, ‘I like it here,’ when I see my children thriving, making friends, and growing like tender plants in the sun and the warm, moist wind sweeping in off the sea like the sweet, gentle breath of God--I can put up with the imperfections of a place that has so few.”
Longtime friend and co-worker Stephen Hancock, an English Program Lead, said, “He [Allred] completely dedicates himself to helping students improve. When he’s just with students, he’s very personal and interested in student’s lives and how that plays into contact on their other lives.
“He wants to make sure he’s doing the best in every job, and because of that, he’s impacted a lot of campuses.”
Originally from California, Allred received his doctorate from UCLA where he completed his dissertation on several 19th-century writer’s responses to the Civil War.
“I’ve always been interested in the connection between history and culture: The symbiotic relationship between literature and history, how one affects the other.”
Allred said he is also a proud father who “didn’t want to postpone children for his education.” By the time Allred graduated from UCLA, he already had four children. “I had children so I could have a life outside of my research,” he commented.
Among other things, Allred shared he is an accomplished rhythm guitarist and longtime member of the on-campus Celtic band, expert of nautical lore and sailing, an avid fan of strategy board games and an active member of the Hawaiian Republican Party.
Allred said he plans on splitting his retirement between Utah and Northwest Arkansas where his children and grandchildren live.
His parting advice to the student body was, “Get your face out of your cellphones. Look at people and talk to them. Read books and keep the commandments.”
Any student wishing to say goodbye to Allred can visit his office at McKay 104D.