The University of Toledo Provost Karen Bjorkman has announced her plans to resign from her current position effective July 29, 2022, returning to the faculty after taking a one-year sabbatical leave.
Bjorkman holds a tenured faculty position as Distinguished University Professor and the Helen Luedtke Brooks Professor of Astronomy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
During her tenure as provost, Bjorkman oversaw the successful completion of the University’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, the University’s Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation and the safe reopening of campus following the COVID-19 pandemic. Student retention and graduation rates have continually increased during Bjorkman’s tenure as provost.
“I am grateful for Dr. Bjorkman’s leadership during these past several years. Her passion for our faculty’s scholarly activities, and even more importantly, her commitment to our students’ success is evident in everything she does,” UToledo President Gregory Postel said. “Her leadership was instrumental in the successful 10-year reaffirmation of our institutional accreditation. I cannot thank her enough for all she has done for our University.”
Bjorkman has been a member of the UToledo faculty since 1996 when she joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She served as the founding dean of the University’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 2010 to 2019.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve our University in this leadership role, but my heart is in the observatory and the classroom,” she said. “I look forward to getting back to advancing our understanding of the universe, and sharing my passion for astronomy with our students and our community.”
A leader in the research field of stellar astrophysics, applying spectropolarimetry to better understand the variable gaseous disks around massive stars, Bjorkman’s research has focused on studying the physical characteristics of these disks and the mechanisms behind their formation and variability.
In 2021, Bjorkman was elected to the Board of Directors of the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), and in 2022, she was elected to the national governing board of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). She was previously 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.
Prior to joining UToledo, 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 Ph.D. 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 intends to announce an interim provost in the next several weeks, and will conduct a national search for the position beginning in July.