Kara Van Marion

Dean of the Cooper Center for Vocation, Career, and Experiential Learning


B.A. in Sociology from Calvin University M.A. in Higher Education from Geneva College

Kara Van Marion serves as Trinity’s Dean of Student Life.

After spending several years teaching in both public and charter schools, Kara felt called to leave her classroom teaching to work with college students.  In 2011, she joined Trinity’s live-in, Residence Life team and began cultivating student learning outside the classroom.  She was drawn to work at Trinity because of the institution’s deep commitments to faith formation, diversity & inclusion, and whole-person learning.

In 2018, Kara became Trinity’s Dean of Student Life.  As Dean of Student Life, Kara has responsibility for the College’s Residence Life & Housing program and Student Conduct Process.  Kara also serves as a Designated School Official (DSO) for international students and a Deputy Title IX Coordinator for concerns related to discrimination.  Other key areas of shared responsibility include crisis response, student health concerns, medical absences/withdrawals, and student leadership.   “My role is both administrative and relational.  I love that I get to work directly with students and I get to work with the systems and structures that help students flourish.  The work we do at Trinity is a gift, and I love that I get to do it alongside a team of amazing people who all believe in this mission and the transformation that can happen in this environment.”

Outside of Trinity, Kara enjoys hiking, snorkeling, and snowboarding—all of which require travel, which Kara also enjoys.  She also loves theatre, music, and museums—all of which are readily available in Chicagoland.  Kara and her family live right next to the college, and they are frequently seen on campus attending events or walking their dog.

Kara’s favorite Trinity tradition happens every year on the evening before freshman move into the residence halls:  All of the student leaders gather in one place to pray over each leadership team, the incoming students, and the schoolyear to come. “It’s an amazing night of authentic community and shared hope—it’s inspiring to see these students, who were once new themselves, step into leadership and become the shapers of a community that they themselves have been shaped in.”