Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Karen Warren Coleman: Campus and Student Life Update

To:       Students
From:   Karen Warren Coleman, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services
Date:    May 3, 2016

I am writing to let you know that I will be departing the University of Chicago at the end of this academic year. My formal announcement, which was shared with the CSL staff and colleagues, can be read here. One of the greatest joys of my seven years here has been working with students, getting to know many of you personally, watching you grow and also seeing you change this place for the better. I'm grateful for the chance to support you and contribute to the indelible impact you have had on the university.

I now have an opportunity to make a different kind of contribution to student life and campus community. Through my experiences here and at other universities and in my profession, as well in the scholarly work I've done to complete my doctorate, I've gained a perspective that will allow me to provide thought leadership for my field. I am tremendously excited to consider what the future holds and how best I can influence the national dialogue and have a positive impact on higher education.

President Zimmer has asked Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University, to assume leadership of Campus and Student Life starting on June 1. With her guidance, CSL will continue to foster an engaged campus community that is uniquely UChicago.

I want to thank each of you for making my tenure at UChicago so rewarding and memorable and for everything you have taught me. It has truly been an honor and a pleasure.

Warmly,

Karen Warren Coleman
Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services


To:       Campus and Student Life staff
From:   Karen Warren Coleman, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services
Date:    May 3, 2016

I am writing to let you know that I will be departing the University of Chicago at the end of this academic year. This was a very difficult decision, and I regret the prospect of leaving all of the colleagues whom I have come to admire and respect so much. At the same time I am excited about the future and the opportunity to pursue new professional challenges. I always want to be growing, learning, and contributing to the betterment of my field.

The field of student life has recently undergone profound change, and there is a need nationally for strong leadership and expertise, especially in all areas of campus climate and inclusion. At this time I have decided to assess the manner in which I can contribute the most to this changing landscape. Through my experiences at UChicago, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, and at other universities and in leading student affairs organizations, as well in the scholarly work I've done to complete my doctorate, I've gained a perspective that will allow me to provide thought leadership in this field.  I am tremendously excited to consider what the future holds and how best I can influence the national dialogue and have a positive impact on higher education.

I’m extremely proud of our collective accomplishments in Campus and Student Life and the significant progress we’ve made toward our goals.  I am confident that the leadership team we’ve built in CSL will be successful in carrying forward our strategic priorities.

Together, we have helped to transform the student experience at the University of Chicago. UChicago now leads the nation in first-year student retention. We have examined honestly our campus climate, and launched the Center for Identity + Inclusion to better meet the needs of students of color, LGBTQ students, and first-generation, low-income, and undocumented students. We have built new residence halls, upgraded campus dining, and reinvigorated residence life. We’ve established the Center for Leadership and Involvement and created innovative programs to help students develop leadership skills. Having led the implementation of the new Academic Information System, we will have completely transformed the technological infrastructure to support the academic mission of the institution – and done so by using a best-in-class, highly collaborative process.

We did all this by developing an ambitious strategic plan for CSL that is embedded in the larger mission, history, and values of the University of Chicago. In order to deliver on this plan, we created transparent processes that allowed us to consult widely with students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and others whose input helped to strengthen our work. Along the way we reorganized almost every piece of our CSL structure and built one of the finest student life teams anywhere in the country.

I’m grateful to each of you for your partnership and for the pivotal role you have played in this success, and I want to thank you for everything you have taught me. I hope our paths will cross again after my departure at the end of June.

President Zimmer has asked Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University, to assume leadership of Campus and Student Life starting on June 1. With her guidance, CSL will continue to foster an engaged campus community that is uniquely UChicago.

With gratitude,

Karen

Karen Warren Coleman
Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services