Dr. Karen Lange, whose 29-year career at the University of St. Thomas includes 13 years as dean of students, has been named vice president for student affairs.
“I could not be more delighted to see Karen step into this well-earned vice president role,” said Dr. Julie Sullivan, president of St. Thomas. “She has the vision, leadership and empathy to be an important part of the team helping St. Thomas realize our aspirations and strategic priorities.”
Lange’s appointment was announced to Division of Student Affairs staff members this afternoon by Dr. Richard Plumb, executive vice president and provost, who said she was recommended unanimously by the search committee. The appointment is effective immediately; Lange has been serving as interim vice president for student affairs and succeeds Dr. Jane Canney.
“Karen is well-known as a strong advocate for our students and a champion of those underrepresented on our campus,” Plumb said. “She is an inclusive and visionary leader who works collaboratively with students, faculty, staff and members of the wider community. Not only has her long tenure at St. Thomas given Karen broad experience and institutional memory from which to draw, it also provides those of us who work with her an exceptional resource.
“Throughout her career at St. Thomas, Karen has been acknowledged by students and colleagues alike as a caring, competent and insightful leader who fosters inclusion, team-building, accountability and creativity. We couldn’t be more fortunate that she was an enthusiastic candidate for this position,” Plumb said.
A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lange earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1983. She was a residence hall director at the University of Wisconsin-Stout for three years while studying for her master’s in guidance and counseling. She first came to St. Thomas in 1986 as residence life coordinator and later served as assistant director of residence life and associate dean of student life. Following a national search, she was named dean of students in 2001. She held that position until named interim vice president in January.
Lange, who received her doctorate in organization development from St. Thomas last year, said she is “thrilled to be leading the Division of Student Affairs for the next chapter in our history at St. Thomas. I am excited to work closely with Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Plumb and the entire university as we move forward to carry out our strategic priorities.
“St. Thomas is a special place filled with many dedicated faculty, staff, students and alumni and I look forward to serving the university in this new capacity,” she said.
Lange and her husband, Dan, live in Woodbury and have two adult children: Kelsey, a 2012 graduate of St. Thomas, and Jeremy, a 2014 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Plumb thanked the search committee, which selected and interviewed a national field of candidates for the position. Members of the committee were its chair, Dr. Michael Cogan, vice president for planning and decision support; Dr. Carol Bruess, Communication and Journalism Department; Amy Gage, neighborhood liaison; Sister Sharon Howell, assistant dean of students; Dr. David Kelley, Geography Department; Ryan Smith, Undergraduate Student Government president; Madonna McDermott, interim dean of students and Health Services director; Dr. Doug Orzolek, Music Department; Dr. Aaron Macke, director of Residence Life; graduate student Magied Alsquoor; and Dr. Barbara Shank, dean of the School of Social Work.