Early life and education
Arenson earned an undergraduate degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970, where she was an editor for the student newspaper, The Tech. In 1972, she received a master's degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Arenson is well known for her work as a reporter covering higher education for the New York Times. In May 2008, Arenson retired from her position at metro desk at the Times, where she primarily covered stories related to higher education. Previously, she was Deputy business editor, Sunday business editor and reporter. Arenson has been with the Times since 1978. She is frequently cited in books as an expert in her field.
The Chronicle of Higher Education called Arenson, "one of the most visible higher-education reporters in the country," during the twelve years she covered higher education for the Times, further reporting her stated "focus on her personal life," as the reason for her early retirement at age 59. Arenson's father, a retired economics professor at Hofstra University, suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and she plans to spend her time caring for him. According to the Chronicle, "She was one of the first journalists in the mainstream press to write about early decision in admissions, the aggressive investments colleges were making with their endowments, and the growth of for-profit colleges."
In 2005 Arenson scooped other journalists by being the first to report on the results of a widely reported on committee investigating anti-Semitism related to Joseph Massad at Columbia University. It had been provided by Columbia officials before its official release on the condition that she did not "seek reaction from other interested parties" including the students who had lodged the complaints, though Columbia agreed to allow a professor who had ""exceeded commonly accepted bounds" of behavior" to respond. The Times was obliged to append a note detailing a departure from its policy that "writers are not permitted to forgo follow-up reporting in exchange for information", which they noted Arenson and editors had not recalled.
- "Prominent Higher-Education Reporter to Step Down at New York Times". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
- "Search for "Karen Arenson"". Google Books. Retrieved 2008-02-21.
- Prominent Higher-Education Reporter to Step Down at New York Times, by Jeffrey J. Seligno, May 1, 2008, Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/free/2008/05/2687n.htm