Dean Karen Green is more than just the Dean of Students at Muhlenberg College. She is the epitome of what Muhlenberg College stands for. A caring, welcoming leader who only wants the best from her students and peers. She is a resource for students on campus and has remained a vital part of the Muhlenberg community since June of 2006; she will be retiring this May. Before Muhlenberg, Dean Green worked in Student Affairs for more than 35 years. She founded the Muhlenberg Gospel Choir and served on numerous committees working with faculty, staff and student leaders. You can find her in Seegers, reaching out to students and handing out pins that say, “You’ve been hugged by Dean Green”. You may even see her riding along Academic Row in her Green Machine golf cart, always carrying a sparkle in her eyes. Dean Green is inspirational and because she has made such an impact on campus, she deserves to be recognized as a Her Campus Celebrity. She may be leaving us in May, but those whose lives have been touched by her will remember her long after she leaves.
What is your favorite color?
Red — it’s vibrant and lively. I love colors.. if you haven’t noticed, I have a very bright wardrobe. Red is one of my favorite colors, it stands for passion
What is your favorite food?
Oh my goodness! That’s hard! My favorite food?
*pensive for about 2 minutes*
Can we come back to that?
*after finishing the interview*
This is one of my favorites — broccoli. My mother says that’s all I would eat when I was younger, meat and broccoli. When I got Chron’s disease, I had to stop eating broccoli. So now that I’m on medication, I can reintroduce it and I still love a good bowl of broccoli. That would be a surprise for most people.
Oh wow, you’ve got some hard questions. Because music is my thing, I love music. Is it in a specific genre? What do I hum the most?
I’ve got two songs that come to mind. One is secular and that is “Peaches and Herb” saying “Reunited and it Feels so Good.” How old was I? I was in my 20s at that point in time. I think my second song would be “Amazing Grace.” That would be my Christian song because it talks about transformation and I think life is so much about transformation, in the secular world and as well as in the Christian decision, or in any faith. I just think that transformation is so critical to the human spirit.
Being here at Muhlenberg is such an amazing opportunity that shouldn’t go wasted. If you could talk to incoming freshmen or even sophomores, what one piece of advice would you give them?
Well, I think I would probably give the speech — being risk takers, trying new things, meeting new people, understanding that there are many perspectives to be considered and to find one’s voice. Because that will make all the difference in an experience — leaving yourself open to all the possibilities. And that’s good and bad because I think we learn from it all.
What is your favorite Muhlenberg tradition?
There are several of those…but what is my favorite? I might say my favorite is Senior Champagne Brunch. And why? It’s because it is part of a culminating experience for Muhlenberg students. We have a time during that event for reflection and how far they’ve come. We hand them back a card they signed when they came in thinking about what their experience might be. To see them open that envelope and to have it be so different from what they thought they would do or seeing them opening the envelope and finding that they did know what they wanted is rewarding for Muhlenberg students. It’s perfect too because they’re 72 hours away from graduating.
If someone asked you what made Muhlenberg unique from other colleges/universities, what would you say?
There is an indescribable feeling of welcome. I first experienced it during the search process for this position because I was first interviewed at a hotel in Philly. Every college thinks it’s special, but when I was successfully in the last 3 candidates, and I was invited to the campus for an interview, I felt it immediately. Really, indescribable is what it is because you feel it, you sense it, but there aren’t words to capture it in a way that’s meaningful for other people.
What is your favorite/least favorite part of being Dean of Students?
My favorite part is watching students grow and mature. Seeing them come in as freshmen, go through the trials of finding a major, getting along with a roommate, joining clubs and organizations and then to see them 4 years later, walk across that stage, knowing all the things that have gone on in their lives that got them to this moment.
My least favorite part is when I have to work with students who are struggling because of poor choices, or struggling because of substance use/abuse, and I sometimes have to ask them to be separated from the college for a certain period of time. On the inside I am hurting so much for those individuals and their families. They say to me that I am ruining their lives, and it’s hard to hear, but in the end I know that I am trying to help the student and the family find a way to be successful and to come back, and work their way through Muhlenberg. In my many years of being in the field, I have been affirmed by students and families who come back and say “thank you. We didn’t see it at that time, but you were right and we want to thank you.”
If you could do anything you wanted after retiring, what would it be?
Well, you know, it’s like winning the lottery. I think if I had an inordinate amount of money, like when people win an outrageous amount of money, I would first give money to my church. Then I would give money to scholarships for multicultural students, and especially help at the colleges where I had my graduate and undergraduate experiences. Then I would give money to some of my favorite charities and do some things for my family and friends. Lastly, I’d like to live somewhere on a gorgeous island where the weather was good and I wasn’t in the path of hurricanes and tsunamis but just to enjoy peace and quiet and to take in all of the wonders that God has provided in this world. Thinking about it, I can probably attain that last one wherever I am, because even though I say I want to be on an island, I’ve moved around a lot and I have been fortunate enough that wherever I’ve been, I’ve made it home. I have mother and father figures, and I always find good support.