Dean Karen Marrongelle to take job with National Science Foundation
Author: Cristina Rojas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Posted: August 21, 2018

Karen Marrongelle, the dean of Portland State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is stepping away from PSU at the end of September to take a top job with the National Science Foundation.

Marrongelle will serve as head of the NSF's Directorate for Education and Human Resources, a rotating position in the federal agency that lasts between two and four years.

She begins her new job in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1, but will remain on PSU's faculty throughout her tenure with NSF.

The Directorate for Education and Human Resources is the part of NSF that funds the majority of research and development in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and workforce development. Initiatives span formal and informal educational settings, from preschool through adulthood. 

Marrongelle's responsibilities will include shaping strategy, policy and funding priorities related to the directorate's four divisions: Undergraduate Education, Graduate Education, Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings and Human Resource Development. She will collaborate with NSF's six other directorates as well as federal agencies, including NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Education.

Marrongelle says she is looking forward to working with colleagues and partners who are passionate about moving initiatives forward that will help all people learn more intensively about the STEM fields.

"NSF funds a significant amount of work in STEM education, so the Foundation has a strong voice in the direction of STEM education for the country," Marrongelle said.

Marrongelle, who started her career as a professor of math and statistics in 2001 at PSU, says she's also excited about returning to her scholarly interests. Her research has focused on how students learn college-level mathematics and identifying ways to innovate teaching methods and curriculum design that lead to greater student success.

Before becoming dean, Marrongelle held positions as Vice Chancellor for Academic Strategies and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Standards and Collaboration with the Oregon University System. She also served as a program officer for NSF from October 2007 through 2009.

In May 2014, she was tapped as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — the largest of PSU's eight schools and colleges — before getting the job full-time in March 2015.

Under Marrongelle's leadership, the college has increased its research funding, developed interdisciplinary research clusters and begun offering new majors, including Sexuality, Gender and Queer Studies and Indigenous Nations and Native American Studies — both firsts in the state of Oregon.

"From all corners of the college — our staff, our students and our faculty — it's such an exciting place to work and I've been honored and privileged to be able to get know this work in a deep way," Marrongelle said. "I'm excited to see where the college goes because it's going great places."

Provost Susan Jeffords will work with the college on a transition plan.