NDSU Featured Faculty Member
Karen Froelich, Ph.D.
Associate professor of management and MBA director, College of Business
The path to Karen Froelich’s current position in the College of Business at NDSU was guided in part by Betty Crocker. The Dilworth, Minn., native graduated from NDSU with a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition, and she wanted to be a Betty Crocker person at General Mills. Betty Crockers were people who worked in food development for the company by finding new ways to use existing products. Froelich interviewed, but did not get the job. When she found out most of the other applicants who got the positions had Master of Business Administration degrees, she returned to school.
Before the General Mills interview, Froelich never had considered getting a business degree despite growing up in businesses. Her parents were both entrepreneurs – her mother had a summer restaurant and her father ran a boat business. Froelich ordered products and did accounts receivables after learning how to do so from her aunt. “Everyone whose parents have a business knows there are always jobs,” Froelich said.
Froelich earned her MBA at the University of Minnesota. In the process, she learned how many opportunities were available for MBA graduates and left Betty Crocker far behind.
Froelich’s first steps into teaching came when she moved back to Fargo and was looking for a job. Minnesota State University Moorhead needed someone to teach finance and investments, and Froelich was a licensed securities broker.
Although she wasn’t comfortable teaching right away, that fall she started teaching managing and marketing, and found her niche. She joined NDSU as a lecturer in 1983, left in 1987 to earn her doctorate at the University of Minnesota, and returned in 1990. Today, she is an associate professor of management and the MBA director. Her research focuses on nonprofit management as well as the role of women in strategic leadership positions. In addition to her research and teaching, she has served on many committees throughout the years. Currently, she’s active on the grad council, faculty senate, NDSU FORWARD and the Commission on Status of Women Faculty.
“It’s a rewarding way to be involved with the university,” she said. “It’s a way to meet other people not in your college and a chance to impact the university.”
As a FORWARD member, Froelich is helping to make changes to spousal hiring opportunities and childbearing leave policies. Her hope for the future is that today’s systemic changes in hiring, promotion and evaluation practices begin to be seen as favorable to all faculty, men and women, and that efforts to improve gender equity continue after the grant is finished.
“I think the main thing that I hope we get to is beyond policy change to some attitude change that doesn’t feel like change anymore … that people don’t see it as an initiative anymore, but to see it as a good way for things to be,” she said.