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New Face: Leann Karr

This new Rebel was hired as a retention, progression, completion specialist to help ensure student success in the College of Fine Arts.

People  |  Jul 31, 2017  |  By Jennifer Vaughan

Leann Karr, College of Fine Arts retention, progression, completion specialist. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

Midwest-raised Leann Karr, who has an extensive background in music education, joins UNLV following her work as coordinator of student services in the College of Fine Arts at Wichita State University in Kansas. She earned her bachelor of music education degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a master of education from Lesley College at Cambridge, as well as a master of arts degree in education from Concordia University in Irvine, California.

Why UNLV?

UNLV was the perfect choice to begin looking at a career move to an area close to family. My daughter and her family live in Henderson. I am excited to be a Rebel and especially a Rebel who works in Fine Arts!

What about UNLV strikes you as different from other places you have worked or where you went to school?

The most noticeable difference that immediately stood out was the progressive and innovative nature of the degrees and courses being offered at UNLV in the College of Fine Arts. When you combine that with the distinguished faculty and the vast service learning opportunities available just minutes from the campus, it is exciting to see the opportunities for growth and success available to students.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a very small rural area in Nebraska. My hometown was Eustis – the “sausage capitol” of Nebraska. I graduated in the top 25 of my graduating class. (There were 26 of us!)

What inspired you to get into your field?

I got my bachelor's degree in music education. I wanted to be the kind of music teacher I never had.

What is the biggest challenge in your field?

Lack of funding for the arts and lack of funding for education in general is a huge challenge. Education in and of itself is vital! Education of and with the arts is essential in society as it introduces students to another way of understanding themselves and the world, and different ways of expressing thoughts, experiences, and feelings that are not easily expressed in everyday symbols and signs.

How are you working toward improving retention, progression, and completion (RPC)?

I've been busy learning — learning about UNLV, about past trends that affect RPC, and about new initiatives that are being discussed and implemented campuswide. I'm working to get the college up to date within the Campus Connect platform of predictive analysis and doing outreach campaigns. I'm also exploring new options for implementing peer academic leadership roles for retention, an early-alert system for student progression, and ways to improve the usage of our four-year degree plans to increase degree completion. It's been great learning from my colleagues in the college's advising office as well as from other RPC specialists on campus.

Tell us about a time in your life when you have been daring.

Well, moving to Las Vegas with only me having a job was pretty daring! Parasailing in Mexico was pretty cool. Gosh – driving to/from work on the 215 during rush hour can be daring!

Finish this sentence, "If I couldn't work in my current field, I would like to..."

Work with gorillas. Seriously. I think gorillas are the most gorgeous and fascinating creatures. Other than that, I would like to be a “professional volunteer” and try my hand at doing lots of new and interesting things.

Tell us about someone you admire and why.

My dad. He loved the Lord and shared that love with others. He always had a positive attitude. He never gave up — even when life was really, really tough. He was innovative, creative, and had great common sense.

Any tips for success?

Be open to learning from everyone. Work to make life better for others. Be honest with yourself and others. Have integrity. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Pastimes or hobbies?

Reading, playing the piano.

Tell us about an object in your office that has a significance for you and why.

It is an apple-shaped paperweight. I received it as a gift from one of my students many years ago when I first became a music teacher. I love that this apple sits on my desk every day and will never decay, never change. It has traveled with me from school to school and state to state. To me, it signifies the never-changing importance of education and learning.