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Karen Elsea

Dean of Nursing

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adult medical-surgical nursing nursing leadership


  • EdD, Higher Education, Ball State University
  • MS, Nursing Administration, Indiana University
  • BS, Nursing, Ball State University

Career Highlights

  • 35 years of nursing experience in various adult medical-surgical areas including orthopedics, diabetes, and chronic renal failure focused practice.
  • Previous nurse manager and supervisory experience
  • 15 years of teaching experience in higher education
  • Award recipient for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Innovations in Professional Nursing Award for Private University (2021)

Featured Scholarship

Bell, T., Blazek, J., Elsea, K., & Morris, T. (2022). Increasing exposure to primary care nursing through curriculum revision and an innovative nursing minor. Nurse Educator, 1-5.

Bell, T., Blazek, J., & Elsea, K. (2022). Improving Patient and Student Outcomes through Academic-Practice Partnerships. American Academy of Ambulatory Nursing Annual Conference, Pre-conference Workshop Presentation.

Elsea, K. (2021). Understanding the Transition Experience of Newly Graduated Nurses Using Constructivist Grounded Theory. Ball State University.

Elsea, K. (2019). Nursing Clinical Simulation with Multi-Patient Scenarios. Midwestern Educational Regional Association Conference, Best Practices Podium Presentation

Elsea, K. (2019) Leveraging an Academic-Private Partnership to Combat the Current & Predicted Perioperative Nursing Shortage. Indiana Center for Nursing Summit, Nov. 4, 2019: Poster Presentation


A lifelong Hoosier, Karen has spent her entire 35-year nursing career in Indiana, including the last 14 years at the University of Indianapolis School of Nursing. Her most recent roles have included Undergraduate Program Director and faculty member.

Prior to joining higher education, Karen's clinical experience included management and staff nurse positions in orthopedics, medical-surgical, and home health. In her role at the University of Indianapolis, she played a critical role in course and simulation development as well as assessment and evaluation. She recently worked with fellow team members to create a curriculum for a nursing minor in primary care that received the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Innovations in Professional Nursing Award for private universities.  

Karen is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and the American Organization for Nurse Leaders. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 33 years and together teach the high school Sunday School class in their local church. They are the parents of four children.