The College of Charleston community is feeling the loss of one of its greatest champions, Karen Linehan Mroz, who passed away Jan. 13, 2024. Mroz made an impact on many lives around the globe and shared her experiences and passions with the College of Charleston community. She worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors in business, education and philanthropy, with a focus on education and women’s empowerment in the Middle East.
Mroz, together with her late husband, John Edwin Mroz, played an integral role in the creation and development of the EastWest Institute, an organization dedicated to conflict resolution by facilitating civil candid discourse among world leaders. Thanks to her unique vision and perspective, the College of Charleston was able to work with the EastWest Institute to establish the John Edwin Mroz Global Leadership Institute. Since the institute’s launch in 2021, she made it her mission to ensure College of Charleston students have the tools and experiences to be globally curious and grow as leaders.
Mroz assumed positions on the institute’s steering committee and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs’ advisory board. She also played an active role in the Mroz Institute’s EWI oral history project run by the Addlestone Library. She was not only an interviewee of the oral history project: She was also prepping to be an interviewer and help expand the catalog.
“Karen was committed to continuing the legacy of her husband, John Edwin Mroz, and the EastWest Institute here at the College of Charleston,” says Aimee Arias, dean of the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs. “She was passionate about ensuring that students get the skills they need to be engaged global citizens; to be able to address global issues through critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving and a deep understanding of international affairs. Karen was so gracious and generous in sharing her time and knowledge with us, and while we will greatly miss her, we will honor her by continuing to grow and enhance the Mroz Global Leadership Institute and the opportunities it provides students to become truly globally fluent.”
One of Mroz’s greatest passions was mentoring students, particularly the International Scholars. She would regularly come to campus to meet one-on-one with students. She loved to hear their plans and share her experiences.
“Karen was interested in the professional development of students, and she invested her time to ensure they had the tools to succeed,” says Max Kovalov, an instructor of international studies and the Bennett Director of the Mroz Global Leadership Institute. “She was always open to chatting with students about their interests and career opportunities. Karen’s own professional experiences in the education of children and women empowerment made her invested in the development of our students.”
“Karen Mroz meant so much to this College community,” adds Arias. “She was never more excited than when meeting with students. She really enjoyed hearing about their internships, other co-curricular activities and career aspirations, and she was one of the most requested mentors for our International Scholars.”
One such scholar is Sara Solan, an international studies and political science double major.
“Karen saw me not just as a student, but as a potential change-maker in the world,” says Solan. “Her warmth and hospitality were refreshing. She insisted on breaking formal barriers, asking me to call her Karen, not Mrs. Mroz because, she said, ‘That’s my mother-in-law’s name.’ While Karen is no longer physically with us, I am confident that her bright spirit and passion for helping others will continue to illuminate the path for the Mroz Institute and students at the School of Language, Cultures, and World Affairs here at the College. The mark that she leaves on us here truly shows how extraordinary she was. Karen made us feel valued, capable and important. We will strive to honor her memory by embodying the values that she exemplified.”
In addition to serving as a mentor, Mroz frequently recommended speakers to come to campus as part of the Mroz Institute World Affairs Colloquium Series. She was highly involved in the inaugural convening of the Mroz Institute in March 2022 and was playing an instrumental role in the upcoming February Mroz Institute Summit on conflict, cooperation and diplomacy
“Karen Mroz was a transformational partner and philanthropist to the College of Charleston,” says Andrew T. Hsu, president of the College of Charleston. “On a personal note, I think we have lost a truly wonderful person – someone whose intelligence, humor and passion represented the best ideals of our campus. She did more than just talk the talk about change and making the world a better place – she walked the walk. Karen will be sorely missed, but her legacy lives on through the Mroz Institute and all the students who take part in the program.”
The Karen Linehan Mroz Global Leaders Scholarship is being established at the College of Charleston Foundation to recognize Mroz’s extraordinary impact on the College and on the generations of future students who will become stronger global leaders because of her tireless work to weave global fluency into the fabric of the College of Charleston experience. For more information or to make a contribution to the scholarship, please contact Brian Rowe, senior development officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843.953.6270.