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Dean Karen Riley Named Provost at Regis University

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Mary Clark

Announcement  •

Dear colleagues,

Please join me in congratulating Dean Karen Riley of the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) who has recently been named Provost of Regis University. We are deeply proud of our colleague and friend and will miss her dearly when she begins at Regis on May 1.

“It has truly been an honor to serve as dean for this impressive organization,” says Dean Riley. As Karen noted upon sharing her news, “This is indeed a time of mixed emotions. I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn and to grow and to the numerous individuals who have mentored and supported me—as a student, as a faculty member, and as a leader.”

Karen has served as MCE’s dean since 2014 and as interim dean in academic year 2013-14. As dean, Karen has overseen all aspects of the college, including advancement, development and implementation of the budget, strategic planning and implementation, and enrollment planning. The college is a highly complex organization with over 900 graduate students across five departments and 26 different degree offerings supported by 200 faculty and staff. MCE also includes our two pre-collegiate schools, the Fisher Early Learning Center and the Ricks Center for Gifted Children. Karen conceptualized and co-launched DU’s Center for Professional Development (CPD), which serves the entire DU community by providing certificates and stackable credentials. CPD is now located within University College.

Karen has been an extraordinarily effective fundraiser, averaging five to six million dollars per year in philanthropic support for MCE. Under her leadership, MCE raised over $24 million in gifts and endowments and increased the donor base and alumni engagement. MCE’s national rankings have also improved under Karen’s leadership, jumping up 37 spots on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best colleges. Now, two MCE programs are ranked within the top 25 in their respective areas, and a third program is ranked in the top 40.

During her tenure as dean, Karen has also been an active researcher, with consistent support in both education- and health-related research from leading federal agencies and private philanthropists. MCE has also seen increased scholarly productivity by implementing incentive and mentorship plans. Sponsored research has increased 104 percent with consistent and projected growth. Publications have increased more than 156 percent over the past six years. During Karen’s tenure as dean, the school has also added two new traditional degree programs, six additional certificate programs, and two online degree programs through a partnership with 2U.

Since her appointment as dean of MCE, Karen has served in countless university leadership roles, including, most recently, as a member of the Strategic Financial Scenarios Task Force, and the DU/National Jewish Health Partnership Working Group. She has also served on numerous search committees for campus leadership roles, including as chair of the search committee for dean and director of the University Libraries.

Karen has also secured millions of dollars for grant-funded research, including nearly $2.5 million from the National Institutes for Health for work related to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In thinking about her time at DU and MCE, Karen shared, “The Morgridge College of Education has been on an extraordinary trajectory, and I have repeatedly been humbled by the exceptional work of this group of faculty, staff and students. MCE is well positioned to move forward and to continue to advance its mission of improving the lives of others.”

In addition to serving as MCE’s dean, Karen has also served as DU’s strategic director for health initiatives since 2019, working closely with our health care partner, National Jewish Health, and overseeing the work of the executive director of DU’s Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging, among other responsibilities.

Karen has been connected to MCE for over three decades. In 1985, she enrolled in MCE’s MA program in Early Childhood Special Education. She then earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at MCE in 1998, following service as an early childhood specialist and early childhood special education coordinator with the Adams County Schools from 1986 to 1997.

Reflecting on her time at DU, Karen added, “On a personal note, I have been fortunate to make deep and lasting friendships with so many within the college and across the campus. It is a blessing to work with people who I consider to be friends.”

It has been an immense pleasure working with Karen. We salute her for her extraordinarily thoughtful leadership of MCE and significant contributions to the University’s well-being and success. We will announce appointment of an interim dean following posting of the opportunity, which is now required by Colorado’s new Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.

In the meantime, please join me in thanking Dean Karen Riley for her exceptionally effective and visionary leadership of the Morgridge College of Education. We will miss her deeply when she moves to Regis, but we are glad that she will remain in Denver as she assumes her new post.

With warm regards,

Mary Clark

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor