President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Join me in welcoming the new vice president for student life, Karnell McConnell-Black

June 8, 2020

Dear Reed community,

Following a national search for a new vice president for student life (VPSL), I am thrilled to announce the appointment of Karnell McConnell-Black, EdD. Karnell will start August 1, 2020, in time for the start of the fall academic term. He comes to Reed from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was the vice president of student affairs and dean of students.

photo of Karnell McConnnell-Black

With more than 12 years of experience in liberal arts higher education, Karnell brings proven skills in creating and enhancing programs and services that support student growth, development, and inclusion. He has served in a variety of leadership roles, including coordinator of orientation and first-year programs at Loyola University Chicago, director of student involvement, leadership, and orientation and assistant dean of students at Westminster College, and in his current role. His contributions to Westminster include key leadership roles in reestablishing the college’s Staff Council, developing the Bias Education Response Team, and integrating student health and wellness across campus. Karnell comes to this position with a keen appreciation for Reed’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, emphasis on student success, and collaborative culture.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and a first-generation college student, Karnell holds a bachelor of arts in communication and a master of arts in higher education administration from Loyola University as well as a doctorate of education in educational leadership and policy from the University of Utah. He serves as the president-elect for the Association of Orientation, Transition, and Retention and as a board member for the Utah Pride Center.

Karnell’s appointment comes at the end of an extensive search process. I thank the search committee (listed below) and commend them for their comprehensive search process and work to involve the community in filling this important position. I also would like to extend my deepest thanks to Mike Brody, outgoing vice president for student life, for his 17 years of extraordinary service to our community.

Please join with me in welcoming Karnell to our community!



Audrey Bilger

Vice President for Student Life Search Committee

Santi Alston (staff, student life)
Déja Fitzgerald (staff, student life)
Alice Harra (staff, CLBR)
Mary James (co-chair, dean for institutional diversity)
Deborah Kamali ’85 (trustee)
Miranda Leong-Hussey (student, political science)
Pax Lloyd-Burchett (student, neuroscience; student body president)
Nigel Nicholson (co-chair, dean of the faculty)
Kathy Oleson (faculty, psychology)
Aziz Ouedraogo (student, biochemistry)
Erik Zornik (faculty, biology)