President Karstens Earns PhD

April 30, 2020

Rachelle Karstens, Briar Cliff University President, received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education from Drake University. After nearly four years of pursuing this degree, Karstens successfully defended her dissertation on April 29, 2020. Her research explored the experiences of college and university presidents as fundraisers while leading private, nonprofit institutions of higher education.

“Dr. Karstens is an inspiration to many. As a lifelong learner, she has not only been pursuing her PhD, she has also been leading our University through both times of growth and, most recently, times of trial caused by this global pandemic,” says Steve Freeman, chair of Briar Cliff University Board of Trustees and 1969 Briar Cliff alumnus. “We are incredibly proud, and extremely blessed, to have Dr. Karstens’ leadership at The Cliff.”

Karstens was announced as Briar Cliff’s 11th president in July 2018 after serving as interim president for six months prior. She received her B.A. from Wartburg College, then went on to earn her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law. Before coming to Briar Cliff, Karstens served in philanthropy roles at the University of Iowa Foundation and Indian Hills Community College.

“In all of Dr. Karstens’ professional roles, she has proven to be an excellent, collaborative leader,” adds Freeman. “She is a true visionary who is motivated by our Catholic Franciscan values to provide the best learning environment and outcomes for our students. Her accomplishment embodies our values of being inspired by faith and a commitment to be a lifelong learner.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Drake University’s May 17 commencement ceremony was postponed to December.

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