Get to know President Ross Allen and his wife, Annie
By LAURA OSTERLUND
Students and faculty members alike packed the seats in Benson Great Hall, their eyes glued to the stage as they waited in anticipation for the big announcement. On February 27, 2020, a time before COVID-19 became a global pandemic and social distancing carried a different meaning, Bethel announced Ross Allen as its sixth president. Since then, the Bethel community welcomed Allen and his wife Annie and began the process to phase them in and Jay and Barb Barnes out. Wednesday, July 1 marked Allen’s official first day as president.
Last March, the Clarion sat down with Ross and Annie to find out more about them.
You both went to Bethel, what were your majors?
Annie: I started out with social work, but then, because we decided to get married, I ended up with a 2 year Associate of Arts.
Ross: And I started out in elementary education and then switched my major after three years to business administration.
What were the Gen Eds like? What was the hardest one?
Ross: We were just talking, and I don’t know if they called it Gen Ed back then.
Annie: No, they didn’t
Ross: You had to take writing and research class. I remember Writing and Research, everyone called it WAR. I just kind of poured a lot of stuff [into it]. That was the one that I remember everybody [talking about].
Annie: And everyone had to take Intro to Bible.
What dorms did you live in?
Ross: I was in Bodien. Bodien was new then, [and] I was in room 228.
Annie: I was on the second floor of Nelson. Nelson my freshman year was all women, and we were kind of sad. We felt like we were ripped off because it was all women. It was (mixed) until my year. Apparently, there were just a lot of women that year.
Ross: The whole campus has changed so much. I mean, the dining center is the biggest contrast. It wasn’t bad when we were there, but it’s nothing like it is now. [The coffee shop] was also one floor up. Yeah, it’s all changed so much, the campus is so nice.
We were there before Getsch was there, before Lissner, before Heritage. Before the Great Hall, before Brushaber Commons.
What sports teams do you root for?
Annie: The Vikings. The Minnesota Twins, but I’m more of a Vikings fan than a Twins fan.
Ross: I’ve tried to root for the Timberwolves over the years, but it’s so painful. When we lived in Memphis, I fell in love with the Grizzlies because it just embodies the city: the grit and grind. That’s what the city is. And, surprisingly, they’ve done well.
What kind of things do you do for fun?
Annie: Well, we live on a lake, so I would say being in our boat water skiing with our family. We love our family, so being with our kids and our grandkids is ideal.
Ross: Yeah, anything outdoors. I like to bike and kayak. And waterski. Annie and I will water ski every day when the weather is warm enough. But, hanging out with grandkids is obviously a lot of fun and being with family. That’s why we moved on the lake so they have a reason to come visit us.
What does your dream vacation look like?
Annie: I’d like to someday go to Scotland
Ross: We travel a lot, we’ve lived all over the place. We lived in Copenhagen and then we lived in Zurich and so in both of them, we were able to travel around quite a bit. You know, my classics are Paris, Rome and London. But I’ve also done some more exotic travel.
We have a grandson who was born in Ethiopia so we visited there. When I was with Medtronic, I traveled to a lot of developing countries and so I really enjoyed that experience and just recognizing the breadth of the world.
But I think broadly traveling,I am just fascinated by the diversity of the world. I think it helps us to see life at its fullest when we see other’s experiences and I have been shaped by it. It’s helped me appreciate not only what we have, but what God’s entire creation is.