Hanson has served at IU since joining the philosophy faculty in 1976. She moved into administration, eventually becoming dean of the Hutton Honors College and, finally, provost of the Bloomington campus. Hanson says she’s been approached before about other jobs in higher education administration, but this job felt right.
“It is important to me that it is my alma mater,” Hanson says. “And it’s a place where I grew up – my father was on the faculty there for a very long time. I met my husband there, who got his degree there. My brothers went there, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, my parents. There are very long home ties there.”
IU has not announced plans to fill Hanson’s position, though officials have said an announcement on the future of the job is forthcoming. The Bloomington campus is the only one with a provost, and though many vacant positions have not been filled in recent years, Hanson says she can’t imagine IU not finding a replacement for her.
“It’s an absolutely crucial job and all our peers have this structure of having a president and a provost,” she says. “The provost is the chief academic officer. It’s only if you think that tending to the academic enterprise isn’t crucial that you think the position shouldn’t be filled.”
Hanson will officially end her IU tenure on January 31 and starts her new job in Minnesota the following day.
IU President Michael McRobbie issued the following statement on Hanson’s departure:
I join everyone across the Indiana University community in congratulating Executive Vice President and IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson on being named the next senior vice president and provost at the University of Minnesota.
Over her 35-year career at IU, Karen has made far-reaching contributions as an educator, scholar and administrator that have benefitted thousands of students and the university as a whole.
In her role as provost at IU Bloomington over the last four-and-a-half years, Karen has worked tirelessly to raise the academic profile of the campus, attract and retain top-flight faculty, and help us re-imagine what it means to be a public university in these challenging times.
As co-chair of IU’s New Academic Directions committee, Karen has been instrumental in helping to define a vision for the future of our institution as we seek to strengthen our position as one of the leading public research universities in the world.
In addition to her considerable administrative skills, Karen has a love of learning and of students that make her ideally suited for a role as chief academic officer for a large university.
Personally, I will miss her perceptive and knowledgeable counsel on a range of issues and topics, and Karen’s departure leaves a void both on the Bloomington campus and on the Indiana University leadership team.
That said, the University of Minnesota is an outstanding institution and I understand the undeniable appeal of returning to one’s alma mater in a key leadership position. I have every confidence that Karen will make the same type of positive difference at the University of Minnesota that she has made at Indiana University.
A search for Karen’s successor will be forthcoming but no timetable has been set for completion of that search.