UH Board of Regents confirms Karen Kopera-Frye as new dean of College of Arts and Sciences

The new dean joins the UH Hilo administration team on Dec. 28, 2020.

Karen Kopera-Frye
Karen Kopera-Frye

Karen Kopera-Frye is confirmed as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin made the announcement yesterday following the UH Board of Regents approval of the appointment at its meeting held virtually Sept. 17, 2020. Kopera-Frye’s appointment is effective Dec. 28, 2020.

“I am delighted to welcome Karen Kopera-Frye to the UH Hilo team,” says Chancellor Irwin. “As an experienced professional with interests in campus-community partnerships, she will make great contributions to our university and provide renewed energy to the arts, humanities, and social sciences.”

Kopera-Frye is currently a professor in public health sciences at New Mexico State University, a position she has held since fall 2016. She also served as NMSU’s associate dean for academics, and associate dean for research in the College of Health and Social Services, from September 2016 to January 2019.

For over 18 years, she has served in a variety of academic leadership positions, including tenured professor, college director of graduate studies, internship coordinator, assessment coordinator, executive committee for self-study reaccreditation, co-director of 29 interdisciplinary health science and liberal arts faculty in a gerontology program, and director of training for graduate teaching assistants in psychology at the University of Akron and the University of Nevada-Reno.

Kopera-Frye has an extensive list of refereed publications, newsletter articles, presentations and published abstracts from 1985 through 2019 with numerous refereed publications in progress. She serves as peer reviewer for many journals. She is skilled in research, community-based participatory research, grant writing, and in obtaining external fiscal resources for programs serving those who are rural and/or economically disadvantaged, especially among indigenous groups.

Her current community service has included being president of the Twin Cities’ Mayoral Committee on Disabilities, board member of the West Ouachita Senior Center, board member of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, and appointed member of the Northern Nevada AIDS Prevention Planning Council for Nevada, and board member for Mesilla Valley Hospice.

Nationally, she serves on the Accreditation Committee for Gerontology and Geriatrics, Academic Program Development Committee, Intergenerational Service-Learning Task Force, and Executive Committee (treasurer) of the American Psychological Association.

She was awarded fellow in both the American Psychological Association and the Gerontological Society of America: Behavioral and Social Sciences Section. She has received awards from the Gerontological Society of America and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education for outstanding research and teaching, and this year, the Friedsam Mentoring Award for her mentoring of faculty and students.

Her formal training is in lifespan psychology with a minor in clinical psychology and specialization in gerontology. She earned her bachelor of arts in psychology, and her master of arts and doctor of philosophy in developmental psychology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She also holds a master of public administration, and a graduate minor in Native American studies/indigenous.

Kopera-Frye replaces Interim Dean Michael Bitter.


Media release