Staff: Karen Kus

It’s been nearly 24 years since Karen Kus hopped on a plane in Boston to come to East Carolina University. She still vividly recalls a woman on that flight asking if someone was picking her up at the airport.

“I was like, ‘No, I’m just going to get a cab,’” Kus said. “And she goes, “Oh, it’s a little different there.’”

Different maybe, but for Kus, it’s home.

Kus works as the executive director of the Center for Student Success in the College of Business. She relishes her role and the opportunities to work with students.

“You’re helping students figure things out,” she said. “Working with students is rewarding because you can help them succeed. Students today face many challenges, but you give them support and get them ready for the next step. The center serves as the primary support service for students, and I’m all about helping students.”

She said her coworkers in the College of Business go out of their way to help students.

“The team is amazing,” Kus said “It’s a very diverse group, and we all work together so well. The entire team does whatever it takes to help students succeed.”

Students need to do their parts by taking advantage of available resources, she said, and that starts with the faculty.

“If that first test doesn’t go well, go and talk to your faculty member,” Kus said. “They’re in the best position to help you. You may not want to go in because you’re embarrassed, but guess what? They already know you failed the test, so you need to meet with them to figure out what happened and how to improve moving forward.”

She encourages students to work hard, engage with faculty and advisors, and get involved on campus. That can lead to success.

“In the College of Business, we build leaders who inspire, innovate, create and positively impact society,” Kus said. “As a college we focus on seven leadership capabilities known as ‘The Leadership Seven’ — integrity, communication, empathy, courage, competence, growth and vision. These principles are incorporated in our curriculum and our co-curricular activities. We want students to build these critical competencies and be successful.”

As such, students engage in community activities, such as picking up trash through the Adopt a Street program and packaging food for the hungry through Beast Philanthropy.

“We can all get caught up in our day-to-day lives,” said Kus, who goes with students to participate. “It just helps put life back in perspective.”

Kus serves as a key organizer of the college’s annual Business Leadership Conference, in which alumni play an important role as speakers and presenters.

“The goal is to give students a professional conference experience and for them to learn from leaders in industry,” Kus said. “We have a keynote speaker. There are concurrent work sessions, a networking reception, and they have the opportunity to have professional headshots taken. … and network with successful business leaders and learn from their experiences.”

Kus puts an emphasis on activities beyond the classroom, providing opportunities for students to support their community through packaging food for the hungry through MrBeast.

She said students in the College of Business have opportunities beyond the classroom to serve the community. She frequently goes with student groups to package meals for the hungry through Beast Philanthropy.

“We can all get caught up in our day-to-day lives,” Kus said. “It just helps put life back in perspective.”

As executive director of the Center for Student Success in ECU’s College of Business, Karen Kus tells students to work hard, engage in campus activities and take advantage of available resources.

Kus grew up in Ohio, earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and began work as a child abuse investigator. However, she never forgot her college transition course at Bowling Green State University and how she might like a career in higher education. So, she went back to school, got a master’s in college student personnel and found ECU.

She’s married with two children, both of whom graduated from ECU and continue to live in the Greenville area. She received the Centennial Award for Excellence in Service last year and will be inducted into the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi later this spring.


Name: Karen Kus

Title: Executive director of the Center for Student Success (CSS) in the College of Business

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio, but I moved to Toledo, Ohio, during my freshmen year in high school.

Colleges attended and degrees: Bowling Green State University, Bachelor of Science in social work; Bowling Green State University, Master of Arts in college student personnel


Years working at ECU: It will be 24 years in May.

What I do at ECU: I work with an amazing team that provides support, direction and resources for College of Business students. The Center for Student Success (CSS) is composed of the Business Communication Center (BCC), The Cunanan Center for Professional Success and the Undergraduate Programs Office.

What I love about ECU: I love the students and the people that work at this university. Our students are truly passionate about their education and work hard every day to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. The people that work at ECU are amazing. They are very down to earth and caring and are here because they believe in students and genuinely want to assist them in becoming the best people they can be. Once I had a student whose single parent had passed away. A financial aid counselor came to my office and assisted the student with completing her FASFA — collaboration at its finest!

What advice do you give to students? My advice to students is you are so capable, you got this, and we are here to help. I try to let them know there is always a Plan B, and we’ll keep working on it until we find a way to make it work.


What do you like to do when not working? Spending as much time as we can with the family

Last thing I watched on TV: “Beachfront Bargain Hunt”

First job: Custard’s Last Stand — it was a small, family-owned ice cream shop.

Guilty pleasure: Sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine

Favorite meal: A cheeseburger off the grill, corn on the cob, pasta salad and potato chips

One thing most people don’t know about me: I was on the TV show “Romper Room” when I was 5.

“I get excited to get up and come to work,” Kus said. “I remember a colleague told me once that the day you stop being excited when you’re on your way to work, it’s time to go. I haven’t had that yet.”