Allen Salo began working at the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1997 as an untenured junior faculty member. But in time, Allen became the senior faculty member in psychology who oversaw the development of the department’s curriculum. This included adding concentrations within the psychology department as well as developing the research-based aspects of the program and a clinical side. Allen felt it was important for students to have both.
“He was critical for really growing the clinical side of the program,” President Ray Rice, Allen’s longtime friend and colleague, said. “And bringing people like Frank Thompson, who teaches a bunch of the clinical courses. He really developed that as well as developing the research side of psychology and really making it an independent program. Because when he got here, it was a part of behavioral sciences, it wasn’t its own degree. So, he really helped make it its own degree.”
Allen and Ray both started at UMPI the same year. “We came with what was the biggest group of faculty they had ever hired at once in years,” Ray said. “And this was 23 years ago. He and I started the exact same summer and had the exact same meetings and all that stuff, along with Michael Knopp. The three of us were the ones who stayed all this time. It was Allen, Mike and me. So, we got to know each other from that point in time because we did a lot of stuff together right off the bat.”
Ray remembers some of the earliest memories with Allen were at house of President Easton, UMPI’s former president. “He had a dinner, or I think it might have been an after dinner hors d’oeuvres thing for the new faculty members,” he said. “And I remember he (President Easton) was welcoming us to UMPI and we were getting to know each other. He and I both got involved with the union, so we went to a lot of meetings and statewide meetings. That’s how we really got to know each other.”
From there, Allen and Ray created a friendship that included some roof shingling on the weekends and dinners at Applebee’s when the colleagues traveled downstate for meetings. Further, senior faculty members invited the two to “choir practice.” Choir practice, as Ray explained, was code for dinner and drinks. The two found the cryptic code for socializing hilarious.
Outside of the psychology department, Allen was a part of several groups at UMPI. “He was willing to be on committees,” Jean Cashman, UMPI’s Associate Professor of Social Work, said. “And he was active in the faculty union, which is called AFUM. He was part of the faculty assembly leadership at different times in his career, and was on other committees, too. So, he was willing to step up and be part of the work that needed to be done on campus.”
Among some of the work Allen completed during his time at UMPI, Jean believes that obtaining a specific certification for the psychology program tops them all. “That’s the MHRT, because it’s not required for psychology,” she said. “And trying to get your program approved through the Muskie Institute.” The MHRT, which stands for Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician, is a certification required in the state of Maine (and many other states) for psychology students seeking work. “It’s beneficial for the students, but I mean you can still graduate with a psychology degree and not have the requirements for that,” Jean said. “I think accomplishing that for our campus, the students, was above and beyond.”
UMPI will continue to remember and miss Allen’s kindness and friendly smile. “Allen was always kind,” Jean said. “He didn’t have a negative word to say about anybody.”
Ray believes his favorite memory of Allen is looking back at his late friend’s wedding photos. “I wasn’t at his wedding because I was out of town,” he said. “But seeing the photos and how happy he was from his wedding: that’s quintessential Allen. And the big smile on his face. He always had one of the best smiles. And the moustache, he always had—he never shaved the moustache. It was pretty hilarious.”
Ray went on to say that he was most happy for Allen’s happiness in his marriage. That happiness permeated every aspect of Allen’s life, as he carried that joy with him throughout his remaining time at UMPI.