Paula Burger, vice provost for academic affairs and international programs, has been named chair of the Commission on Undergraduate Education, the now two-month-old committee charged with assessing and enhancing the entire undergraduate experience at Johns Hopkins.
She replaces Ralph Kuncl, who in June will become provost and professor of biology at Bryn Mawr College and adjunct professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
Kuncl, vice provost for undergraduate education, championed the formation of the new committee, whose primary task is to produce by spring 2003 a list of recommendations that, once implemented, will significantly improve the quality of undergraduate education at Hopkins over the next 20 years. The 30-member group--including faculty, senior staff, students, trustees and alumni--will likely address such issues as better integration of the intellectual and social life of undergraduates, advising and career support, and the diversity of the undergraduate community.
Burger says efforts are under way to make the transition of leadership as smooth as possible.
"In short, I hope to build on the foundation that Dr. Kuncl has laid," Burger says. "Those of us who are in the Provost's Office felt it was important that we lost no time, and that we continue the forward momentum that has already begun."
The commission reflects the interest of the president, provost and deans in improving the experience for undergraduates. The university's upcoming reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education provides the timely opportunity to engage in a serious review. The evaluation, which occurs every 10 years, will take place in 2003; in the self-study portion of the process, Hopkins has decided to focus on undergraduate education. Burger, in conjunction with her role in CUE, also will chair the reaccreditation steering committee.
Prior to coming to Hopkins 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 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.
Steven Knapp, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, says that Burger's experience makes her the perfect person to take over the reins from Kuncl.
"Paula has the proven ability to lead this kind of process, evidenced by her extraordinary work facilitating the recommendations of the C21 report," says Knapp, referring to the 1994 document of the Committee for the 21st Century, which examined critically and imaginatively every aspect of the university's organization and programs.
To date, the Commission on Undergraduate Education has met three times to devise themes and goals.
"Now it's time to sit down and conduct a midcourse debriefing," Burger says. "We need to be certain that we have identified the most important issues, that we have the right division of labor and that the process stimulates the most creative thinking about recommendations that would enhance undergraduate education here at Johns Hopkins."
Knapp said there will be some reorganization of the Provost's Office in order for Burger to focus on her new duties while continuing to coordinate and enhance the university's international efforts.