The University of Tulsa has announced that Karen K. Petersen has been named dean of TU’s Kendall College of Arts & Sciences. She will assume her new duties on Feb. 1, 2021.
Petersen currently serves as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She has held the dean’s position for nearly three years and has served in the dean’s office for six years.
Petersen received her doctorate in political science from Vanderbilt University in 2004. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from MTSU and her master’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt.
Petersen’s publications include journal articles on the causes of interstate conflict, terrorism, the federal courts, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and pedagogical issues related to online learning. She is the co-author, with Stephen Saunders, of Prospects for Political Stability in a Democratic Iraq: A Study of the Clusters of Conflict.
“I am honored to accept this position in historic Kendall College and am eager to begin working alongside its talented faculty and my fellow deans,” Petersen said. “It is humbling to be entrusted with the leadership of such an excellent team as we work together to strengthen our academic programs, create new academic opportunities for bright, curious students at TU and infuse the arts, humanities and social sciences into the university experience for all students. A strong liberal arts education is the best investment for individual students and for our society, and TU is perfectly positioned to provide stellar academic and co-curricular opportunities for students.”
In announcing the appointment, Acting Provost Tracy Manly said she is grateful for the members of the search committee who performed exceptional work under trying conditions. She also shared her enthusiasm for Petersen’s decision to join TU.
“Dr. Petersen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to The University of Tulsa both as a teacher and as an administrator,” Manly said. “She embraces TU’s focus on student success and seeks to build upon our reputation as Oklahoma’s finest private university. She is an advocate for undergraduate research and interdisciplinary collaboration, which are hallmarks at TU.”
Petersen served as co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Catalyst grant to improve the recruitment and retention of female faculty in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines at MTSU. A member of the honors faculty, Petersen currently teaches in the international relations program and has led study abroad trips to Israel.
Current Kendall College Dean Kalpana Misra is stepping down and will return to the faculty after a sabbatical. She has served as dean since 2013 and been a member of the faculty since 1988.
“Dr. Misra is a valuable member of the TU community. She is beloved as a professor and respected as dean of the college,” Manly said. “I thank her for her tireless work on behalf of our students who have become strong, compassionate leaders in corporations, government offices, nonprofits and NGOs. She leaves a lasting legacy.”