- IUPUI Maynard K. Hine Medal (2012)
- Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award (2008)
- School of Dentistry Distinguished Service Award (1994)
Karen Yoder is an Indiana University alumnus, receiving her A.S. in Dental Hygiene in 1962, a B.S. in 1963, an M.S.D. in 1983, and finally a Ph.D. in 1997. Yoder is Associate Professor of Preventative and Community Dentistry. In 2001 she was named Director of the Division of Community Dentistry at the Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis. She is widely regarded as a national expert in the area of service learning for dental education, and focuses on public health, civic responsibility, health policy advocacy, and cultural respect in her instruction. In addition, Yoder published a framework in the Journal of Dental Education in 2006, contributing to the collective understanding of the theory and practice of service learning in dental education.
As the Director of the Division of Community Dentistry, Yoder implemented a new elective course, "Service Learning in Community Oral Health," in partnership with the School of Dentistry, Indiana Donated Dental Services, and Goodwill Industries, allowing fourth-year dental students to provide dental services to developmentally disabled adults at no cost. Yoder also created the SEAL INDIANA program, a required rotation for fourth-year dental and second-year dental hygiene students. Students travel throughout the state in the Seal Mobile, providing sealants and other preventive, educational, and referral services to children from low-income families. Since the program's inception in 2003, more than 15,000 Hoosier children have received services. Yoder also established international service-learning programs in Mexico, Haiti, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Brazil. In 2005 Yoder, working with the Indiana Dental Association, founded the annual Oral Health Policy Forum, a one-day public policy session for fourth-year dental students.
Yoder's contributions have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. In 2005 she was named an IUPUI Boyer Scholar, receiving a stipend to conduct research on service learning and civic engagement. She was also named as a Fellow of the IU School of Nursing's Institute for Action Research in Health. Her leadership of the Division of Community Dentistry won the School of Dentistry the Goodwill Industries' Community Partner of the Year Award in 2006, and an Outstanding Service Award from the Indiana Dental Association in 2007.