Karen Helmers (2002-2003)

Karen graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana and began her teaching career at St. Charles High School in St. Charles, Illinois. After attending a summer session at Western Illinois University she was offered, and accepted a graduate assistantship in the counseling center. She completed her master's degree in Counselor Education and accepted a position as high school counselor in Dallas City and LaHarpe, Illinois. After 15 years as a high school counselor she was offered a position as an admissions counselor at Western Illinois University. Further promotions led Karen through positions of assistant director of admissions, associate director of admissions, and then director of admissions.

WIU awarded Karen the Administrative Recognition and Service Award in 2002 in recognition of her leadership and allowing WIU to reach its enrollment goals and increase the academic proficiency of new Western students. One of her staff noted, "She is extremely well-organized, efficient, resourceful, conscientious and one of the hardest-working people I have ever known. She never acts as though a job is beneath her. If something needs to be done and there isn't anyone else to do it, she takes care of it herself. She displays a remarkable attitude that is very contagious and helps set a wonderful example for anyone who associates with her."

Karen retired from Western Illinois University in June, 2003 after nearly 33 years in education. An avid golfer but always dedicated to the profession and WIU, Karen willingly set aside retirement to return as acting director of admissions while WIU searched for another replacement.