The University of Toledo’s most senior dean will serve as interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 2010, will lead academic affairs starting Tuesday, Jan. 15.“Dr. Bjorkman is a well-respected leader on our campus who is passionate about supporting student and faculty success,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We have made great progress on achieving the goals set forth in our strategic plan. With Dr. Bjorkman as our chief academic officer, I know we will continue to enhance the educational experience for our students and our faculty scholarly research and service activity.”
Bjorkman, also a Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and the Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy, has been a member of the UT faculty since 1996 when she joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“I appreciate this opportunity to continue to help move the University forward in a different role,” Bjorkman said. “It is important to me that we don’t lose momentum and that we keep moving in positive directions, increasing student retention and graduation rates, and growing the research, scholarship and creative activities of faculty across our comprehensive university.”
Dr. Andrew Hsu, who has served as UT’s provost since 2016, has been named the president of the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He will work with Bjorkman for several weeks to ensure a smooth transition and complete his tenure at UT at the end of February. The president thanked Hsu for his leadership in implementing the University’s strategic plan and initiatives to enhance student success.
Bjorkman is a leader in the research field of stellar astrophysics, applying spectropolarimetry to better understand the variable gaseous disks around massive stars. Her research has focused on studying the physical characteristics of these disks and the mechanisms behind their formation and variability.
In 2017, Bjorkman was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific and engineering society, in recognition of her important contributions to scientific discovery.
“I look forward to working with faculty across the breadth of our colleges to support their research and creative scholarship, to continue to improve and enhance our student success outcomes, and to build bridges between STEMM areas, professional schools, and the arts and humanities so that we ensure our graduates have the wide range of skills and experiences they need to be successful in today’s increasingly interdisciplinary world,” Bjorkman said.
Prior to joining UT, Bjorkman was a scientist in the University of Wisconsin’s Space Astronomy Laboratory and a systems engineer for Martin Marietta Denver Aerospace.
She earned her PhD and master’s degrees in astrophysics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The University plans to conduct a national search for provost at the beginning of the next academic year.