How One of the School’s Most Revered Staff Members is Cementing Her Legacy

Kirchof has helped students uncover new opportunities and learn how to navigate the job-search process for over 25 years as the leader of the Nicholas School’s Office of Career & Professional Development.

Karen Kirchof, long-time Assistant Dean of the Nicholas School’s Career & Professional Development Office, is retiring at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.

Karen Kirchof has been the cornerstone of career services for students for nearly three decades, dating back to 1990 when she served as a one-woman internship placement office. In the 27 years since, “Coach K” (as she is sometimes referred to around Environment Hall) has built a team around her that has shepherded nearly every student who has come through the doors of the Nicholas School through the learning process of how to secure critical internships and job opportunities.

As the former Assistant Dean nears the end of her tenure with mixed emotions, she hopes to see her efforts continue to build additional resources that benefit students long after she leaves campus. To cement her legacy, she has invited the Duke community to make a donation in her honor to the Nicholas School Internship Fund so she can continue to have an impact on students after she retires.

“It has been such a privilege to work with students and see where they’ve gone from here. Having the opportunity to “plant that seed” and see it grow has been the highlight of my time here.” -K. Kirchof

Kirchof points out that, unlike other environmental schools that have substantial endowments in place for funded internships, the Nicholas School is heavily reliant on smaller donations and its own limited budget to help fund these opportunities for students. “It would be a great competitive advantage for the school if we could provide more funded internship opportunities for students. Any contributions that are made to our internship fund not only help students directly, but also increase the value of our program for future students,” says Kirchof.

Excluding the Nicholas School’s Stanback Internship program, only 10 to 15 percent of student internships are funded by the school, with the rest left to seek outside funding from grants or other sources on their own. Kirchof hopes to see this number grow to upwards of 40 to 50 percent in the coming years, which would allow the school to expand funding support across all sectors – both internationally and domestically.

If you would like to make a donation to the Nicholas School Internship Fund in honor of Karen, click here.