Collegium Executive Director Elect Chosen

On behalf of the Collegium Board of Directors I am delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Karen Eifler, Professor of Education and Co-Executive Director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland as the next Executive Director of Collegium pending founding Executive Director Tom Landy’s retirement from that position June 30, 2022. 2021-22 will be a year of transition during which the administration of Collegium will be transitioned from College of the Holy Cross to University of Portland. Tom’s last Colloquy will be June 2022. This will also mark Joyce Gawlik’s retirement after 20 years as the Collegium Assistant Director. We are grateful to both Tom and Joyce for all that they have done for Collegium.

In welcoming Karen as the new Executive Director, we are welcoming someone who has broad and deep experience with Collegium. In addition to serving on the Board and as Board chair, Karen has also served as a much-loved Mentor for numerous Colloquies, a director of several Collegium spiritual retreats, and most recently as one of the Colloquy’s keynote speakers. She also served on the planning team for the Pause at 25 and as co-editor (with Tom Landy) of the well-reviewed volume of essays on sacramental educative practices from multiple disciplines entitled Becoming Beholders: Cultivating Sacramental Imagination and Actions in College Classrooms, which won three national prizes, and features the wisdom of twenty Collegium alums. There is no one who has served Collegium in so many different ways, or who better embodies the spirit that makes Collegium the unique, enriching, and rewarding experience it is than Karen.

Fr. Mark Poorman, C.S.C., University of Portland President has promised University of Portland’s full support, standing ready to provide the “logistical, philosophical, and spiritual assistance necessary for the success of Collegium” under Karen’s leadership. This matches the extraordinary generosity of the College of the Holy Cross since 2002. In his letter of support Fr. Poorman comments on Karen’s “unparalleled commitment to the beauty, grace, and indispensability of Catholic higher education; an extraordinary track record of integrating spirituality and faith into disparate, perhaps unexpected parts of our institution; a boundless zeal for guiding individuals and scholarly success; and, an abiding and deeply-held enthusiasm for the good work of Collegium.”

Members of the search committee unanimously brought Karen forward for Board ratification finding her deep integration of the Catholic intellectual tradition, her humility, and her commitment to Collegium, as well as the attributes that Fr. Poorman so beautifully articulated in his letter of support, made her the obvious and natural choice for the next Executive Director.

Tom Landy, who has served as the founding Executive Director and has developed it into the transformational experience enjoyed by so many faculty participants over the years, finds this to be “an exciting moment of transition. It means so much to know that Collegium will be guided by a great leader as Karen Eifler, and by a dedicated board that fully supports her work. I expect that Collegium’s best days lie ahead.”

Karen is “thrilled to take on the role of Executive Director of Collegium.” She hopes that she is “heeding Frederick Buechner’s vocational wisdom that ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’” She says that she finds that hunger for purpose and integration among her colleagues “as they labor to teach, study and serve at institutions whose value is publicly and heatedly debated, in a world experiencing tectonic shifts in every realm.” The “deep gladness she has found in her twenty years of association with Collegium “has been deep and real for me and the scores of colleagues I have worked alongside. I expect to stretch every muscle I have, some I’ve never met, and be ignited by the generous network of so many others who love Collegium.”

Karen’s background is as a teacher (fourteen years in 8th grade math and religion classrooms) and then a teacher of teachers at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and the University of Portland for the past twenty-two years. Her research, which focuses on PK-12 teacher induction and humane uses of technology, has appeared in the Journal of Teacher Education, Educational Forum, and in collaborations in several interdisciplinary journals, as her mantra in writing matches that of her classrooms: all of us are smarter than one of us. In recent years, she has shifted her scholarly efforts to faculty formation in Catholic colleges and universities, providing plenaries on Catholic identity, directing the curriculum development of ACCU’s Leadership in Catholic Higher Education program, co-editing—with Collegium founder Tom Landy—Becoming Beholders: Cultivating Sacramental Imagination and Actions in College Classrooms. She has also created a YouTube channel that features the gorgeous illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible as the focus of 15-minute online Visio Divina experiences. Karen was recognized as Oregon’s Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation in 2006, and she received Collegium’s first Visionary Award in 2014.

Please join the Collegium Board of Directors in welcoming Karen Eifler as the next Executive Director.

With all best wishes,

Norah Martin, Ph.D.
Collegium Board Chair
Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies
University of Portland