The Executive Cabinet includes the university president along with an administrative group of vice presidents governing academic affairs, finance, university relations, admissions, and athletics.
President of Briar Cliff University
As Briar Cliff University’s 11th President, Dr. Karstens was appointed in 2018 and is a compassionate and proven leader with a background in higher education, law, and fundraising.
An Iowa native and one of nine children, Dr. Karstens graduated from Wartburg College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, after which she earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. A lifelong learner, Dr. Karstens is proud to be a first-generation college student, as well as the first to receive an advanced degree. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education from Drake University. Her research explored the experiences of college and university presidents as fundraisers while leading private, nonprofit institutions of higher education.
Dr. Karstens began her career as an assistant prosecutor and associate attorney before establishing her own law firm. During this time, she also served on the Wartburg College Board of Regents and participated in their presidential search. It was during this process that she determined she wanted to work in higher education in a leadership role.
This new passion for higher education eventually led Dr. Karstens to philanthropy roles at the University of Iowa Foundation as their Director of Planned Giving, and then at Indian Hills Community College as their Executive Director for Philanthropy and Alumni Relations.
In addition to her success as a lawyer, business owner and university executive, Dr. Karstens is also a lifelong believer in, and practitioner of, volunteerism. She is currently involved with Leadership Siouxland, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Girls Inc. of Sioux City, and Mercy Medical Center Child Advocacy Center’s Angels in Blue program.
The mother of two adult children, Clara and Grant, Dr. Karstens exemplifies Briar Cliff’s Catholic Franciscan values, demonstrating service and openness to all, both personally and professionally. She has received accolades for her collaborative leadership style, an approach she has practiced since her days in the courtroom, fostering strong relationships through collaboration.
|Vice President of Mission and Leadership
Sr. Pat Doody is the Vice President of Mission and Leadership. Sr. Pat served as a member of the Briar Cliff University Board of Trustees before joining Briar Cliff in 2019 as a part of the Empowering Learning Initiative (ELI). She assists with employee leadership development, oversees campus ministry, Franciscan scholars, Franciscan team and works on creating a mission-focused culture.
| Vice President for Finance
Patrick Jacobson-Schulte, B.A, M.B.A, D.B.A., (A.B.D.), is the Vice President for Finance at Briar Cliff University. As VP for Finance, he's responsible for coordinating and executing day-to-day business operations and has been instrumental in the development of new business tactics and strategies.
| Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs
Dr. Todd Knealing is the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr, Knealing oversees the academic operations of the University, including academic programs and faculty recruitment. He has served as director of the Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), chaired the school of undergraduate studies, was a member of the strategic leadership team, and taught psychology at BCU for 10 years.
| Vice President of Athletics & Operations
Nic Scandrett is the Vice President of Athletics & Operations for Briar Cliff University. He joined the team in July of 2019 and oversees all intercollegiate athletic programs, the Roth Cliff Shop, Charged Food & Brew, The Café, Residence Life & Housing, Security, and Facilities.
| Vice President of University Relations
Tina Stroud is the Vice President of University Relations, she is responsible for the development, fundraising, alumni relations, and marketing strategies at the University. Tina, a Briar Cliff alumna, has more than 20 years of fundraising experience at non-profit organizations, including at the Alzhemier’s Association and St. Luke’s Health Foundation prior to her return to BCU.
| Vice President of Enrollment Management
Matt Thomsen is the Vice President of Enrollment Management. Since Matt joined Briar Cliff as Executive Director of Enrollment in September 2017, he has been instrumental in the development of new admissions strategies. Matt is responsible for coordinating and executing the day-to-day operations of the admissions department, this includes all undergraduate and graduate admissions.