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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

March 29, 2013

Former New York Times journalist to visit Northwest, give lecture

By Philip Gruenwald, media relations assistant

Karen Arenson

Karen Arenson

Karen Arenson, a former higher education journalist for The New York Times, will visit Northwest Missouri State University and speak about higher education trends during the final presentation in the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in the Mary Linn Auditorium at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. During her visit to the campus, Arenson also will meet with student groups and Northwest administrators to discuss issues pertaining to higher education and journalism.

Arenson covered the economics and politics of higher education institutions for The New York Times for 30 years. She was one of the first reporters to chronicle the growing use of early-decision admissions and the explosion in the aggressive management of endowments at some colleges and universities. She also was among the first reporters to examine the growth of for-profit colleges and universities. At the time of her retirement, The Chronicle of Higher Education called Arenson “one of the most visible higher education reporters in the country.”

“We really want her perspective because she has a vast knowledge of higher education of all types,” Dr. Aaron Johnson, associate professor of geology and chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series, said. “I view this as our administrators trying to be proactive and getting as much information about challenges and opportunities as possible, moving forward through tough economic times.”

Arenson will be on campus April 14-20 and will interact with the Northwest Leadership Team and other administrators, student media and honors students.

“She’s really done a great job of making herself available to Northwest, so it’s up to us now to maximize that energy,” Johnson said. “She views this as a chance to get another aspect of the academic spectrum. At the same time, it’s a chance for us to get a different perspective from someone who’s seen lots and lots of the educational world, especially the economics side of it.”

Anyone interested in education will benefit from Arenson’s lecture, although students interested in writing, economics, finance and politics will be especially interested in the discussions.

“All students are affected by tuition one way or another, so we will all appreciate her lecture because it concentrates on tuition and how endowments are used at universities and the growing cost of paying for a university,” Emily Bunse, a sophomore geology major from Cosby, said. “This is something she’s been covering for a really long time so she’s definitely an expert in her field.”

A six-person committee will take turns guiding Arenson throughout Northwest. As a student ambassador on the committee, Bunse will give Arenson a student’s perspective on Northwest through a campus tour and a dinner in the J.W. Jones Student Union. Bunse says the opportunity to hear from experts like Arenson validates her decision to attend Northwest.

“The fact that we can get a New York Times reporter, especially one who has done such amazing work and knows her field, is really amazing,” Bunse said. “It solidified the fact that our institution is dedicated to exposing us to experts in different fields. Northwest gives students plenty of opportunities to not just hear classroom lectures but actually hear from people who are experts in what they do, which broadens our knowledge.”

The objective of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to enhance the academic environment through individual discipline and interdisciplinary topics. Supported by the Office of the Provost, the series offers the campus and Maryville community opportunities to hear from extraordinary individuals who come from around the globe. Scholars, world travelers and leaders in their fields visit the Northwest campus to share their wisdom, insight and experiences. Suggestions for future distinguished lecturers may be emailed to Johnson at

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468