Biography of President Karen Gross

Karen Gross is the President of Southern Vermont College, a small, private, affordable, four-year college located in Bennington, Vermont.  The College offers a career-launching education with a liberal arts core, and many of the College’s students enter the fields of healthcare, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and social service.   

From January 2012–2013, Dr. Gross was on leave from the College to serve as Senior Policy Advisor to the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. In that capacity, she served as the Department of Education’s representative on the interagency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning service members and their families, working closely with the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Labor.  She also was involved in implementing the President’s 2020 Initiative to increase college access and success. 

Prior to becoming a college president, Dr. Gross was a tenured law professor for more than two decades. Her academic area of expertise is consumer finance, over-indebtedness (including student debt) and community economic development.  She served as a consultant to governmental and non-profit organizations and prior to entering into government service, was on several boards, including Campus Compact (a national service-learning organization), The Sage Colleges and Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, Executive Committee.   

Dr. Gross has earned a national and international reputation as a scholar, teacher, administrator and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of those less privileged.  She speaks frequently and writes regularly about higher education issues for various audiences and in a wide array of publications such as Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, NEJHE, InsideHigherEd and the Chronicle of Higher Education

Raised in New England, Dr. Gross is a cum laude graduate of Smith College where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and a cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law, having spent her final year of law school at the University of Chicago. Prior to entering legal academia, she taught at the high school and college levels and practiced law in Chicago and New York.