A Minute with Dr. Karen Chaney, Associate Provost and Dean

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What is your role with the college and where does your passion for this role stem from?

I currently serve as one of two associate provosts at the college, working as part of an academic leadership team led by Provost Paul Burkhardt. I also serve as dean of the college overseeing the academic life of the college in its various functions. My passion for this role is long-standing: I have worked in academic administration for most of my life and enjoy working with others to provide the structure and foundation for developing and conveying knowledge in higher education.

What are the most exciting parts of your role?

I enjoy learning, so my role provides me with endless opportunities to address new challenges and think through new ways in which the college can thrive and deliver its mission. I have an intellectual interest in the sociology of knowledge, so my position allows me to stay in touch with new thinking in higher education and keep abreast of new ideas and paradigms in this field.

What do you like about teaching at The University of Olivet? What do you like about teaching?

I was a first generation college student. I truly enjoy working with Olivet students who often come from similar backgrounds. College can be an eye-opening experience and a gateway to a lifelong passion for learning. I appreciate being a part of a long chain of educators in human history, passing on knowledge and the love of learning to new generations.

What “words of wisdom” have you lived by that students can learn from?

I find guidance in the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, directing one’s life activities to improve and heal the world, bringing it closer to a harmonious, just state. Remember to follow your passions and to keep in touch with joy and wonder in your life.

What is an interesting or little-known fact about yourself?

After being introduced by Dr. Lisa Furman, dean of academic quality and innovation, to “Hamilton,” the musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2015), I am now reading Alexander Hamilton, the book (Ron Chernow, 2004). Between the two, I am exploring different questions that are being raised for me regarding this period of U.S. history and the founding of the United States. I was a political philosophy major in college, so I am revisiting The Federalist Papers and other exciting works!


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