Karen Riley, Ph.D.


Slippery Rock University

Dr. Karen Riley was appointed President of Slippery Rock University in December 2022. Previously, Dr.Riley served as Provost of Regis University, and prior to that as Dean of the Morgridge College of Education and the Strategic Director of Health Initiatives for the University of Denver.  She is an internationally recognized expert in neurodevelopmental disorders, and her scholarship focuses on interdisciplinary and intersystem approaches to addressing the complex issues of today’s society and to improving the lives of children and families effected by fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome. Riley’s prior research has focused on educational and behavioral interventions and outcome measures related to targeted treatments. She has authored or co-authored more than 50 book chapters, clinical guidelines, and journal articles, has over 150 national and international conference presentations. She has served as the PI or CO-PI on research grants exceeding $5.8 million dollars from funders including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DARPA, the National Institute of Health, and the Institute for Educational Sciences.

As a leader in the community and within the field of education, Riley serves on several boards and community committees.  These include the Colorado Center for Rural Education, the Mayor’s Education Compact, National Fragile X Clinical and Scientific Advisory Council, Center for Disease Control Outcome Measures Advisory Committee, Denver Museum of Nature and Science Sticky Issues Task Force, Colorado Department of Education Educator Preparation Program Advisory Committee.

Dr. Riley holds an MA in Early Childhood Special Education and a PhD in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Child and Family Studies from the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver and a BS in Psychology from Colorado State University.  Dr. Riley was the recipient of the FRAXA Post-Doctoral Fellowship at The Children’s Hospital in Denver.  Dean Riley has received numerous awards including National Fragile X Foundation Clinical Award for Translational Research (2018) the National Fragile X Foundation Outstanding Service Award (2010), and the DU Academic Spotlight Honoree (2012).

Riley started her career in Adams County School District 12.  Following her post-doc she worked at The Children’s Hospital, rejoined her alma mater in 2004 as an Assistant Professor, and assumed the role of Dean in 2013.