Print This Post

Benefits seen from new legal counsel position

Posted on 11.20.2013

Several new cabinet-level positions were added to the University of Indianapolis administration. One of these positions was vice president and legal counsel. To fill this new position, President Robert Manuel tapped former Corporation Counsel for the City of Indianapolis Samantha Karn.


Samantha Karn

Both Karn and Executive Vice President for Campus Affairs and Enrollment Services Mark Weigand mentioned the importance of compliance with higher education regulations for this position. Weigand said that this position is something that other schools have for this reason and others.
“Universities are faced with a growing number of regulations and legal restrictions,” Weigand said. “It is now more common for universities to have a general counsel to help ensure compliance and guide discussion on decisions which have serious legal consequences.”
According to Karn,  having an in-house counselor will cut costs as well.
Karn said that this was an initiative that came out of Manuel’s master plan, and she has been working with him to define the position. She said that there are a lot of contracts that go out in regard to university partnerships, that she works with human resources on employment questions and that she does a lot of issue spotting and finding  liability for UIndy.
Weigand said that Karn’s new position has many benefits for UIndy including legal questions about projects to be resolved more quickly and cheaply. Weigand said that this has allowed new projects to move forward more quickly by not getting bogged down in the early stages.
Weigand said that Karn has also worked on standardizing campus policies on legal issues. He said that sharing information on this topic has been an obstacle in the past.
“Without a general counsel, departments often received outside legal support. However, the decisions never reached other departments,” Weigand said. “Having a general counsel will help make sure advice and guidance on legal issues will reach all departments and will be incorporated into general campus policy.”
Karn started her position in mid-July and said that UIndy has been very welcoming and that she has enjoyed the challenge of crafting the new position.
“It was a very smooth transition. It could have been difficult just because it is a new position and it had not been defined,” Karn said. “But I really enjoy my work, and the people I work with. I could not ask for a better job at the moment.”
She said that one part of defining the new position has been figuring out the balance of day-to-day and what she will work on with furthering the strategic plans to carry out Manuel’s master plan.
She said that her work with the city prepared her well for working with UIndy. Specifically, she compared working the Department of Public Works in city government to the Physical Plant at UIndy. In city government, she reported to Mayor Gregory Ballard and took care of legal issues for many other people in the government. At UIndy, she reports to Manuel and works closely with cabinet members and others on campus.
“There are so many parallels that I can draw,” Karn said. “My job at the city really set me up well in many ways. Though the mayor was my boss, I had many clients. And that is sort of what I have here.”
Karn said that her position mostly entails protecting UIndy and its interests.
“Mainly my job is to protect the university as best as I can. And that is really what forms the decisions I make about things and the way I negotiate contracts,” Karn said. “I am always looking out for the university’s best interests.”
Karn said that she hopes that her position and those of the others in the upper echelons of campus leadership remain invisible to students. She said that when administrators get things accomplished behind the scenes, it allows students the freedom the focus on what is really important: their education.
“It is my hope that students do not see my work,” Karn said. “All of the administrators are all working to be behind the scenes so students don’t have to see that side of the university. They are studying and hopefully having a good experience.”
Looking back on her experiences as a student at Indiana University, she has noticed that the Bloomington campus has changed a lot. She believes that the changes that are taking place at UIndy will also be part of the alumni experience. She said that helping Manuel toward his master plan goals has been a big part of her UIndy experience so far.
“Those are the things that I think you’ll be able to look back on and say ‘Wow, the university has really changed’ and ‘Wow, the whole footprint of the South side has really changed,’” Karn said. “For me that is the most interesting thing, because it is tangible.”


RSS Feed  Follow Us on Twitter  Facebook Profile