Name: Karen Vignare
Department: Personalized Learning Consortium
Title: Executive Director
Joined APLU: August 2017 (as Executive Director after previously working as a consultant)
Why did you want to work at APLU? As a higher education professional in the field of leveraging learning technologies to improve quality and access and a former Michigan State University employee, APLU for me serves as an association that helps its members fulfill a student-focused mission of access. The work of the PLC shows that promising new technologies can provide faculty and institutions with data on learners to help advance toward their goals to have all admitted students also be successful—and graduate. APLU universities matter and serve as a guide to others, showing them how improving student success is a core value.
What motivates you to work in higher education? Probably my parents and especially my dad has motivated me to work in education. Both my parents were born at the end of the great depression (yes, I am old!). Both knew poverty, but today my dad is a multi-millionaire who never went beyond 8th grade while my mom did get her GED. I am privileged to have gotten an education and eventually a PhD. My dad’s success is only part of the legacy and motivation; as a small business owner, he fought with agencies to create training programs and offer young people training in construction and office work. The passion to educate was always with the understanding that you don’t expect them all to become experts, but you do want them to have learned a skill or processes that make them more successful in their next venture. I hope that I continue that passion to make public universities even better at delivering learning to the students we educate.
What’s the most rewarding thing about working with public research universities? The opportunity to work with REALLY smart people who will always force you to improve your arguments.
What is on your bucket list? More travel and I have already been lucky enough to visit 44 countries and 43 states, but I learn so much through travel that I always want to go back somewhere or visit somewhere new.
What’s the last book you read?
The Choke by Sofie Laguna. When I travel especially to other countries, I like to look for books (yes, print) of local authors. It is very difficult to search for local authors, so bookstores are much better. This book is sad but it does have a hopeful ending. It set on unique Australian geography, but with a timeless story of how the poverty cycle is so hard to break. I do recommend it.
What’s the first thing you do when you look at your phone in the morning? So, while it is not fun, I generally look at the weather or email. I am looking at the weather to decide which walk I will take my two Great Pyrenees (pictured) on that morning before I head to work.