CPS dean resigns, assumes new role

College of Professional Studies Dean Kathleen Burke will step down from her post at the end of the fall semester to assume a role in the office of one of the University’s three vice provosts.

Burke will act as senior adviser for nontraditional and distance learning, drawing on her experience with online and hybrid education, in a decision reached jointly by Burke, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Stephen Ehrmann and Provost Steven Lerman.

University spokesperson Courtney Bowe did not return a request for comment on how or when the decision was reached.

Burke’s departure leaves the leadership of the underlying Graduate School of Political Management in flux, with the current – and second – acting executive director of the school holding the title temporarily amid a search for a permanent head.

Members of the faculty and alumni community have criticized Burke for not including them in the decision-making process and failing to take their concerns for the future of the school into account.

Tension in the political management program reached a peak last April when the original acting director of GSPM, Chuck Cushman, abruptly resigned. Dennis Johnson, who was on leave serving as a Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in China at the time, was called in to fill the vacancy.

Since then, sources with inside knowledge of the second search have applauded the addition of an outside firm and Burke’s doubled efforts to engage faculty, alumni and the Council on American Politics, the funding and advisory arm of the school. The search committee hopes to name a new director by January.

Burke expressed high hopes Wednesday for the next leader of the graduate program.

“As the school grows in renown, it needs to ensure that it also grows in quality and through sound operations and practices,” Burke said. “I believe the school is now well-positioned to do both.”

A member of the Council, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his relationship with the school, said Burke’s improvements in the spring were noted.

“I think she’ll be fully engaged [throughout the fall] because this now becomes a legacy issue for her,” the Council on American Politics member said. “I think she gets it at this point.”

With Burke at the helm, CPS initiated four new degree programs and six credit-bearing graduate certificates, expanded international programs and launched a long-term strategic plan.

Provost Steven Lerman expects to meet with the College of Professional Studies’ Deans Council to put a new dean in place “as soon as possible.”

Burke has held dean-level positions at four universities, holding each title for less than three years. She was named dean of of the College of Professional Studies in the fall of 2008.

Burke said she “enjoyed immensely” her time as dean and intends to “remain one of [CPS’s] biggest fans and strongest advocates,” in a letter to students, staff and faculty announcing her departure.

“I appreciate all of the efforts and hard work that the CPS faculty, staff, and friends of the College have put into building this College and, I truly, truly believe in its mission,” Burke wrote.

Burke said she is particularly interested in using technology to reach out to non-traditional students.

Lerman, who had a hand in the Graduate School of Political Management search alongside Burke, announced the administrative change in a letter to faculty Monday.

“I am confident that she will contribute to University-wide advances for faculty, programs, administrators and students alike,” Lerman said in the letter. “I join many others in appreciation of Kathleen’s outstanding accomplishments in her years as dean of CPS. We will continue to build CPS’s programs upon the strong base established by her and the previous dean.”

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