Provost Karen Kaivola Announces Retirement

Olivia Allery, news editor 

Photo of Karen Kaviola in 2018 at event honoring retiring faculty

The provost of Augsburg, Karen Kaivola, is retiring at the end of this academic year. Along with serving as provost, Kaivola has also been serving as Senior Vice President of Academic And Student Affairs since 2019. The position is only one step down from President Paul Pribbenow and Kaivola has held this position since 2013. The title of provost comes with the duties of working closely with Pribbenow and vice presidents, the academic deans, the dean of students, as well as being in constant communication and working with a variety of faculty directors all across campus. These include the directors of Lindell Library, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Office of Sponsored Programs and Research, the Faculty Senate, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the General Education program, and Assessment. In her time here at Augsburg, Kaivola has contributed greatly to some significant changes here at Augsburg for the past nine years.

These changes include the implementation planning and engaging the faculty into designing of what is now Augsburg’s newest buildings, Hagfors Center. Also under her leadership the staff population has grown more diverse, starting at 10.5% and growing to 23% people of color on staff. She also has been a huge supporter and advocate for the establishment of the Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies program. During her time at Augsburg, Kaivola launched four initiatives; the Grow Sustainability Task Force, the HLC Quality Initiative, and the Office of Planning and Effectiveness, and the Academic Structure Task Force to strengthen Augsburg’s commitment to student learning as well as to put Augsburg in a strong place for the future as a student-centered university. 

“It was remarkable to witness how people at Augsburg worked together, in deeply collaborative ways and in the face of real uncertainties that made planning difficult”

Karen Kaviola

Kaivola also has moments that she is personally proud of in her time here at Augsburg, “First, while we’re far from perfect and have yet to realize our own high expectations, our community is out in front, leading by example what it means to be a socially just institution dedicated to educating today’s diverse students for 21st-century realities,” she said in correspondence with the Echo, “Second, it was remarkable to witness how people at Augsburg worked together, in deeply collaborative ways and in the face of real uncertainties that made planning difficult, to respond to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. I am proud to have been a partner with others in both of these areas.”

Kaivola further expresses that while she never wanted her position here to be short term, she realized that this change in leadership was essential for Augsburg to keep moving forward as an institution. “The time is right for me but also for Augsburg,” said Kaivola.

Augsburg is working to find her a successor that will be an adequate fit for Augsburg’s needs and the community. Pribbenow is working with the Faculty Senate to develop a search committee and develop a profile to fill this important position. Kaivola has also expressed her plans for her future retirement. “I want to retire from full-time work while I’m still young enough to anticipate many active, healthy years ahead for both me and my spouse, Bonnie Tensen, who works in Augsburg’s IT division as an E-Learning specialist.”