Previously, Allison served as provost and vice president at Governors State University in Illinois where he was also a professor of English. From 2006 to 2010, he was dean of the College of Arts and Letters and a tenured English professor at California State University, Los Angeles. He was also a faculty member and served in a variety of roles at California State University, San Marcos, from 1991 to 2006.
At Governors State, Allison focused on improving academic quality, growing enrollment and ensuring cultural diversity through the creation of the university's first five-year academic master plan and implementation of new programming in, among other areas, information technology, community health, entrepreneurship, urban education, and several new humanities and social science programs. He also represented senior administration in the reaccreditation of programs in education, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and public administration, and he began an accreditation effort for art and film. He served on a three-person executive leadership team that oversaw planning and implementation of lower division programming, housing and marketing plans for the university.
As dean of the College of Arts and Letters at California State University in Los Angeles, Allison managed enrollment, facilities, personnel and academic quality for a large and growing college, and worked to establish several new programs and initiatives, including a new MFA in television, film and theater, and a strategic language initiative in Korean.
During his 15 years at California State University in San Marcos, Allison worked on numerous initiatives designed to transition the university from a start-up to an established campus. Over the years, his responsibilities steadily increased to include leadership responsibilities for finance, planning, administration and assessment.
Allison has a Ph.D. in literature and M.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, San Diego. He received a Master of Library and Information Science degree and an A.B. degree with honors in economics and political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
He is the author or editor of two books, "CSU Haiku" (Tajmika Press, 2011) and "States of Rage: Emotional Eruption, Violence and Social Change" (New York University Press, 1996), and numerous book chapters, journal articles and other creative works.