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Dr. Karan Powell

Dr. Karan Powell - American Public University System (APUS)


Dr. Karan Powell is president of American Public University System. Dr. Powell leads the university system to advance the achievement of its strategic goals of academic excellence, managed growth and institutional effectiveness. Her leadership places a core focus on expanding APUS’s reputation and recognition as a premier quality provider of and partner in student success in higher education. She has more than 30 years of experience in higher education and online learning, leadership development, organization performance enhancement, and transformation in education, non-profit, business, and government settings. She also has more specialized expertise in learning at a distance, evaluating equivalent work learning for college credit, regional and specialty accreditation, instructional technology, online faculty workload, program review and evaluation, leadership development, system change, organization transformation, and spirituality in the workplace.

Prior to becoming president in July 2016, Dr. Powell served APUS as provost since 2011, leading university academics to ensure academic quality and online teaching effectiveness, student success, advocacy for the faculty, and the adoption and creation of innovative online instructional strategies and technology. She also served as interim chancellor in 2004, dean of the School of Business, Management and Graduate Studies in 2005, and academic dean from 2006 to 2011, advancing the academics department in areas of curriculum, programs and faculty. She participates on multiple boards, including Higher Education Resource Services (HERS), where she also serves as secretary, Garrison Forest School (Baltimore, MD), as an advisor to John Gardner Gateways to Completion and to APUS partner Fidelis Education, and, until her appointment as president of APUS, served on the board and as secretary for the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO).

Dr. Powell first joined the APUS Board of Trustees while serving as chief learning officer for American Management Systems, where she helped transform a traditional training department into a corporate university incorporating distance learning resources and methodologies, developed strategic partnerships with universities, and designed and implemented online virtual corporate performance management system. Dr. Powell served as an executive faculty instructor at Georgetown University School of Business and also served as director of professional development programs in the Georgetown University School of Continuing Education, where she designed and taught leadership classes for the U.S. Senate and Verizon, among other organizations. She has been an adjunct faculty member at University of Phoenix Online, George Mason University, and University of Maryland University College.

Dr. Powell holds a doctorate in education from George Mason University, with a specialization in organization development and organizational learning. She also holds a bachelor of science in business education from Western Illinois University and a master of divinity from Loyola University (Chicago), in addition to a certificate in advanced organization design from the University of Southern California. Dr. Powell also completed the HERS Institute: Advancing Women in Higher Education Administration, the Harvard Institute for Educational Management, and the University of California Berkeley Executive Leadership Academy.