A writer whose byline graced the pages of this magazine for 15 years is retiring. While I have enjoyed his lively features and marveled at his ultra-concise emails, I am most grateful for the time this writer spends reading.
Most Bulldogs know Marc Allan as a writer, but he can have a profound impact on the career of a student—just by reading. Ask Dana Lee. She had never met Marc. But he knew who she was and more importantly the quality of her writing and reporting when he recommended her for the Indianapolis Star’s Our Children fellowship. As an avid reader of the Butler Collegian, Marc had taken note of Dana’s work since she began writing for the paper. So, when a reporter for the Star called him looking for a student intern who could research, investigate, and write stories on local children’s issues, Marc knew who to recommend, and Lee landed the fellowship.
Marc has played a role in the careers of Butler students and graduates that few realize. For years, I’ve been sending students his way as he will literally read any student’s work. Alumni who are now themselves professional journalists and writers continue to reach out to him for advice. You see, they know the behind-the-scenes Marc. The Marc who serves as the go-to counselor for anyone interested in a career in journalism.
In this role, Marc draws from a deep well of experience. He worked as a reporter for 24 years, spending the last 16 years of his newsroom career at the Indianapolis Star where he covered the arts beat in Central Indiana. As an arts critic, he has reviewed thousands of concerts and performances from Bob Hope (at age 90) to Elvis Costello. In his columns, Marc was not one to hold back criticism—even if it meant he would likely receive it as well. His two-star review of Fleetwood Mac’s 1997 performance prompted one angry reader to write that Marc “must be blind and deaf.” Marc once told me that he keeps a file of these “fan” letters. I guess for Marc, it just comes with the territory. But what I appreciate the most is what his thick-skinned attitude teaches aspiring journalists and Collegian reporters, who unfortunately face much harsher criticism in these current times.
Marc joined the Marketing and Communications team at Butler in 2004, but has continued to write and report, maintaining a connection to journalism as a freelancer whose work has been published in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Delta Sky Magazine and countless other publications. Locally, he is a frequent contributor to the Indianapolis Business Journal and Indianapolis Monthly, where he continues to cover arts and culture. According to the Indianapolis Monthly, Marc has “actually had a more successful journalism career” since he left the Star.
Given all his experience, it only made sense that the head of Butler’s Journalism program wanted Marc in the classroom. In 2005, Marc brought his expertise in writing and reporting to Butler students, and except for a brief two-year sabbatical to complete an MFA in Creative Writing, he has been an Adjunct Instructor of Journalism ever since.
Marc loves working with students, especially those who have a passion for journalism but don’t necessarily know how to channel that passion into publishable work. And this is why he reads and why he sends complimentary notes to students when they produce an exceptionally well reported and written story for the Collegian—even if the story results in negative publicity for the University.
In a public editor’s column for The Collegian, Marc explained this relationship. “Occasionally, I read The Collegian and wince,” he wrote, “because in my job, negative stories and commentary sometimes leave my department—and, often, me—answering for the University.
“But I say that with a smile, because I also teach journalism here as an adjunct, so I want to see young journalists doing their best work—even if that means more work for me.”
Marc ended this column by reminding us that student journalists are here to learn and we are here to teach. Even though he is retiring in May, I know that Marc will never stop teaching, advising, recommending, and most importantly … reading the work of those he so generously helped to educate. And for that and for all he has meant to Butler Journalism, I am so very grateful.