DMU adds provost position, welcomes experienced health professional

May 27, 2009 —

(Des Moines, IA) – Des Moines University (DMU) is excited to add a provost and welcome Karen McLean, Ph.D., M.S., to fill that role.

McLean will assume the role August 17. She is currently acting dean for University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s College of Science and Health. She’s been at the La Crosse campus in various positions since 1983 working up the ranks as she added degrees. She has a Ph.D. in exercise science, M.S. in adult fitness and cardiac rehab and B.S. is in physical therapy. She is also a graduate of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education Management Development Program.

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Karen McLean

“You have an amazing infrastructure (at DMU). I am very impressed with your physical facilities. I come from a health professions background — that’s the part of the economy, due to the aging population, that is going to grow,” she said. “The cooperative learning atmosphere and focus on wellness I find very appealing as that’s something I believe in. Finally I’m a bit of a political junkie so living in Wisconsin I was jealous of you Iowans.”

The decision to add a provost was made due to continued growth — the University now offers nine graduate programs and is doing feasibility studies on additional expansion. The goal is to ensure continuity of academic quality.  The decision was not made lightly. Results of a ‘best places to work’ survey led to meetings between staff, faculty, administrators and an outside consultant. That led to the recommendation of adding a provost. DMU president, Governor Terry E. Branstad and the board of trustees approved the plan.

Gov. Branstad said, “We’re thrilled to add Karen to our team and know she will be a great addition to DMU and will add extra support and assistance for the faculty. She is both an experienced educator and proven academic leader with a track record of fostering collaboration, budget oversight, academic program review and accreditation oversight. I look forward to the talent and skills Dr. McLean will bring to this new position.”

She said, “I think the University will be poised to consider adding new programs. One of the roles I’ll have is looking at data to help the board of trustees and president decide if it’s a good decision. I think we also want to promote the research of the faculty and it’s probably a continued goal to increase the diversity, socioeconomically and culturally, of the student population. I see that many, many students want international experience so I think continuing to make connections with other schools and universities (is important).”

McLean is excited about living in Des Moines. She’ll bring husband Duncan and children, Madeline and Anthony, as well as two horses. She loves being active outdoors and likes running, biking, cross-country skiing and hiking.

She said it’s been a number of years since she’s lived in a city as big as Des Moines and she’s excited about all the cultural opportunities. There is one thing she’s not fully prepared for, however. “One of questions I get is ‘Iowa or Iowa State fan?’” she added with a laugh.

For more information about DMU, visit www.dmu.edu.

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Des Moines University (DMU) is the only private medical school in Iowa, offering graduate-level, professional degree programs in osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, biomedical sciences, anatomy, health care administration and public health. Founded in 1898, the institution offers superior academics in a collaborative environment. DMU students' pass rate on national examinations and board certifications is consistently higher than the national average and the rates at similar institutions.


Courtney Tompkins has been part of the DMU marketing team since Nov. 2005 and loves promoting a school she believes in so thoroughly. Proud daughter and patient of DMU alumni, Courtney knows, first-hand, that Des Moines University is doing a world of good. A fan of all outdoor festivals, fruity drinks and nearly all edibles, she has a hard time narrowing down her list of favorite places to go and things to do but lists the Iowa State Fair as an all-time fave. She loves her 8-minute commute to DMU from Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines. She and husband Tyler are owned by three large dogs, Tonka, Tucker and Tank.