Karen Eifler, a University of Portland professor of education and co-executive director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture, was named the next executive director of Collegium.

Founded in 1992, Collegium invites faculty at Catholic colleges and universities to better understand the mission of Catholic higher education and help prepare them to become leaders in advancing that mission in creative ways.

“This feels like I am living out Frederick Buechner’s great vocational advice to find the place where your great gladness meets the world’s great need,” Eifler said. “Collegium has been a ‘North Star’ for me for nearly 20 years, and I am excited and nervous and excited to take on the challenge of leading it.”

Eifler will begin a year of transition as Tom Landy, the current executive director, retires from that position on June 30 of next year. The 2021-22 year will be one of transition during which the administration of Collegium will be transitioned from the College of the Holy Cross to U.P.

Holy Cross Father Mark Poorman, president of the university, said in a letter of support for Eifler that she has an “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.”

In addition to serving on the Collegium board and as board chair, Eifler has served as a mentor for numerous summer colloquies, director of several Collegium spiritual retreats, and most recently as one of the colloquy’s keynote speakers. Eifler was also co-editor 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.

Eifler is widely published in her field and has earned several academic awards in recent years, including the first national Collegium Visionary Award in 2014, University of Portland’s Culligan Medal for Faculty Service in 2014, Deans’ Award for Faculty Leadership and “Outstanding Teaching” in 2000. In 2007, she received the Judith Ramaley Faculty Award for Service-Learning from Campus Compact.

She has taught educational psychology, literacy, classroom assessment and management and supervised dozens of new teachers conducting their first field work. She also coordinated a mentoring program with the Bridge Builders, using the talents of U.P. students preparing to become teachers. And she is co-founder of the University’s Faith and Intellectual Life Discussion Group, a creative faculty and staff seminar for spiritual and spirited debate.

Eifler has a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from the University of California at Los Angeles. She earned her teaching credentials at Holy Names College in Oakland, California, and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.