University Leadership | Briar Cliff University

University Leadership

At Briar Cliff University, our leadership includes the university president along with an administrative group of vice presidents governing academic affairs, finance, university relations, admissions, student development and athletics.


Karstens, Rachelle

President of Briar Cliff University

Rachelle Karstens, JD, is a compassionate and proven leader with a background in higher education, law and fundraising. She most recently served as interim president of Briar Cliff University and has also served as chief of staff and executive vice president since arriving on campus in the spring of 2017.

Knealing, Todd

Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Todd Knealing is the Vice President for Academic Affairs who oversees the academic operations of the University, including academic programs and faculty recruitment. A professor of psychology, Dr. Knealing has taught courses at BCU for the past 10 years. He has also served as director of the Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT), chaired the school of undergraduate studies and participated as a member of the strategic leadership team at Briar Cliff.

Halvorson, Daisy

Vice President for Finance & Administration

As a traditional student, Daisy Halvorson attended a technical school and became a licensed cosmetologist and owned and operated seven businesses. As a non-traditional student, she graduated with her BSBA in Business Management from the University of South Dakota. She worked as an operations manager in a steel plant before returning to USD to receive her MBA and begin her career in higher education. Daisy continued her lifelong learning by completing an EdD in Educational Leadership at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. She's currently in her 19th year as a VP for Finance & Administration in higher education.

Paskey, Louise

Vice President for Student Development and Institutional Mission

Louise Paskey is the Vice President for Student Development and Institutional Mission, and coordinates many aspects of the student experience and broad-based learning outside of the classroom. She also serves as the University’s Title IX Coordinator. In addition to her Student Development responsibilities, Louise provides leadership in collaboration with members of the university community to advance the University’s mission and provides leadership as the chair for the University’s Catholic Franciscan team.

Stroud, Tina

Vice President for University Relations

Tina Stroud is the Vice President for University Relations, who is responsible for development, fundraising, alumni relations and marketing and communication strategies at the University. Stroud, 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.

Thomsen, Matt

Vice President for Enrollment Management

Matt Thomsen is the Vice President for Enrollment Management. Since Matt joined the Briar Cliff community as Executive Director of Enrollment in September 2017, he has been instrumental in the development of new admissions strategies. As VP for Enrollment, Matt is responsible for coordinating and executing the day to day operations of the admissions department at Briar Cliff University. This includes all undergraduate and graduate admissions.