Jim Allison came to Georgetown College joining the development and fund-raising office thinking he would only be there a few years.
On Thursday, 18 years later, Allison will retire. Most will know him from his rich voice reading off the names of the graduating class, an honor he has had for the last few years which has earned him the title from some as “The Voice of Georgetown College.”
The assistant vice president of communication is his title now, but he will tell you he has worn lots of different hats, as well as moved offices 10 times in the 18 years. His first job was to produce a video celebrating the 10th anniversary of President Bill Crouch at the school.
“My job at first was newsletters and marketing and fundraising, but I have done alumni publications and relations, the magazine and for all 18 years, I was the media liaison,” he said from his office in Knight Hall.
He has seen a lot of change over his 18 years, including Dr. M. Dwaine Greene succeeding Crouch as president, and several construction projects.
“Both school presidents did a lot of good things during their tenure. Dr. Greene took on a big challenge and has been really good for the college. He will be missed when he retires this spring,” Allison said. “We’ve built what is now the Bush Center for Fitness and redone Hill Chapel. We’ve had the Bengals camp and that was a wonderful experience.
“And people have changed. We have a lot of new professors. That is a good thing when new blood comes in. I may be the oldest person on campus now,” he laughed.
Not only has the physical campus of Georgetown changed over his tenure, but so has how the college communicates with current, past and future students.
“Social media didn’t exist 18 years ago. Then we had the traditional Facebook and Twitter. Now it is Instagram. It is a challenge to continue connecting with young people where they are,” he said. “And communicating with the media is different now, too.”
Allison has worked 60 years, being a familiar voice on Lexington radio stations WVLK and WLAP, then working as news director at WLEX Channel 18 for 15 years before coming to Georgetown.
You can hear his admiration for Georgetown College as he talks about what he will miss.
“I’ll miss the interactions with the people from the students to the faculty and staff. This school is blessed to have the caliber of teachers they have, and they are experts in their areas,” he said. “I have seen so many students get their degrees here and go on and get advanced degrees and do great things.
“It is wonderful seeing freshmen come on campus that first time, then grow and transform to graduates. You see their relationships with their professors grow and they stay in touch after they graduate. You don’t see that everywhere.”
That admiration crosses over to the Georgetown community itself. He served two years on the Chamber of Commerce board as the college representative and he hopes the residents continue to support the college and recognize what they have here.
Naturally he has a lot of memories from his time at the college, and he fondly remembers the lineup of renowned speakers Georgetown has hosted, such as Madeline Albright, Mitch Albom and artistic performers.
So what comes next for Allison?
“I’ll have to see what my wife has in mind,” he said, the laugh filling his office. He plans to do some volunteer work at Baptist Health in Lexington and some projects around the house needs his attention. He and his wife have a daughter in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands and a son they will spend more time with.
“It’s been good years at Georgetown and I’ve had a great career,” he said. “I have been extremely blessed.”
Steve MCClain can be reached at email@example.com.