The Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 3, 2003
March 3, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 24


A Vice Dean Is Named for Undergrad Ed

In new role, Paula Burger will oversee HSA, guide A&S efforts

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

Paula Burger, a key member of Johns Hopkins' administration for the past 10 years, has been appointed to the new position of vice dean for undergraduate education for the two Homewood schools, effective in June.

Burger is also vice provost for academic affairs and international programs and since April has served as acting vice provost for undergraduate education.

Paula Burger

In her new role, she will serve as point person for undergraduate academic matters in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and will lead the school's efforts to implement the final recommendations of the university's Commission on Undergraduate Education, a committee she chaired.

Daniel Weiss, Krieger School dean, created the position in response to one of the principal recommendations in CUE's interim report, released earlier this month.

The CUE report contains the group's general findings and 33 specific recommendations that are intended to significantly improve the quality of the undergraduate experience over the next decade, while preserving the university's core research values. A final report will be issued to the president, provost and deans in late April or early May.

As vice dean, Burger also will oversee Homewood Student Affairs, which handles student life, enrollment and other academic services for both the Krieger and Whiting schools. In this capacity, Burger will work with Dean of Student Life Susan Boswell and Dean of Enrollment and Academic Services William Conley to implement student life- related CUE recommendations and to develop innovative opportunities for faculty and students to interact.

Boswell and Conley will report directly to Burger, rather than reporting jointly to the two schools as they do now.

Dean Weiss, to whom Burger will report, said that the new position both demonstrates the university's strengthened commitment to and focus on undergraduates, and provides a unified view of the undergraduate experience.

"We felt the school would be best served by having one person who has ownership and accountability for all aspects of undergraduate education," Weiss said. "The vice dean can facilitate the implementation of recommendations from CUE and other sources that seek to enhance the quality of our learning environment. When we began to shape our vision, I could think of no person, both here and elsewhere, more qualified to fill that role than Paula Burger. Her leadership experience will, I am sure, prove invaluable."

Prior to coming to JHU in 1993, Burger held a variety of administrative positions in academic and student affairs at her alma mater, Duke University, to which she returned after receiving a doctorate in political science from Johns Hopkins. As executive vice provost at Duke, she provided leadership for academic planning and various academic services, including undergraduate admissions and financial aid. Earlier, as an academic dean, she had responsibility for advising and curricular matters. She also has directed college residential and co-curricular programs.

Burger said student life issues have always been close to her heart and she welcomes the opportunity to enrich the Johns Hopkins undergraduate experience.

"My hope is to try to achieve the objectives that CUE has laid out, such as strengthening the sense of community here and providing opportunities to offer students a balance between academics and life outside the classroom," Burger said. "What the creation of this new position does is put a person in place who will sustain the conversation and keep our attention focused on this area."

In addition to her new role, Burger will continue to devote a portion of her time to ongoing responsibilities as vice provost, including chairing the university's accreditation committee and coordinating efforts to enhance undergraduate education across the five divisions that offer undergraduate programs.

Burger says that while she will miss having an active role in international programs, she understands that she "can't continue to do it all."

"It sure doesn't make for a tidy resume--some people must be wondering what my career trajectory is," Burger said with a laugh.

"But honestly, this new role I'm taking on makes sense for me because now I have a chance to tackle an issue to which I'm deeply committed," she said. "I've always been troubled by the perception that people here don't care enough about undergraduate life. People do care, and we want to do even more. I can't think of anything more satisfying than being involved with and working with students, and we want nothing less than to have the Hopkins undergraduate experience be as highly regarded as our graduate programs."

Ilene Busch-Vishniac, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering, said that when high school seniors shop around for a college, they not only look for the quality of the education experience, they also look for the school's ability to expand their horizons socially.

"And for our undergraduates to find our experience somewhat lacking is a wake-up call for us," she said. "If we wish to continue to improve and compete for students, we need to focus on this area more. I think the world of Paula, and she is a stellar choice to lead us toward our goals."