Thank You, Karen: Karen Kinoshita Retires after 14 Years at the IAS


Karen Kinoshita is retiring from the University on October 6, 2020. For the many faculty, students, staff, and visitors who have passed through the IAS, Karen has been the first person they encountered at the Institute. The IAS’s reputation for being a welcoming and supportive place is in no small way thanks to Karen, who joined the staff in December 2005, three months after the IAS first opened its doors.

Karen brings a personal touch. She has sense of what is unique about each person she meets, and she finds ways to make thoughtful connections that demonstrate careful consideration of individual needs and preferences. She has always taken particular care with out-of-town visitors to the IAS, sometimes arranging a private, off-hours visit to a gallery, or personally giving a guided tour of places of interest to the visitor. She frequently draws on her extensive connections in the arts community and her wide knowledge of the University to put people in conversation with one another. And she is always attuned to the needs of IAS fellows and collaborative participants. For Karen, “no question is too small”: whatever the question, she will endeavor to find an answer. Karen is also an accomplished paper, book, and fabric artist. She curated the exhibit “A Sense of Place in Artists’ Books” in 2012, which was part of the IAS’s University Symposium on Site and Incitement. In recent months, she has contributed her skills to the U-CAN volunteer mask-making effort.

Karen’s work has been integral to the IAS. She has handled the travel and lodging for every out-of-town visitor at the IAS in the past 15 years; created beautiful and evocative event flyers; rearranged furniture for events more times than anyone could count (and even suffered a broken foot doing so); processed thousands of invoices and payments, navigating a sometimes contradictory and complicated financial system; helped dozens of international guests with complicated visa arrangements; kept the office machinery running and made gallons of coffee; and helped two directors and one managing director through innumerable difficulties, large and small. She has been a stalwart support to all of the IAS’s activities, and we will miss her.

Given the pandemic restrictions, we are not able to offer Karen a proper retirement party. Even if we could, it’s likely that Karen would modestly decline such a public celebration. Far more meaningful will be your personal notes—and we will be sure to pass along to Karen anything that might arrive after her retirement.

We wish Karen the best in her retirement!