College of Arts and Media dean candidate Kelly Burke discusses student retention, strategy


Kelly Burke discussed the importance of student retention and her focuses for the upcoming strategic plan during a forum in the ongoing search for Central Michigan University's Dean of the Arts and Media College.

Burke spoke in front of faculty and students Dec. 2 at the Music Building'sStaples Family Concert Hall in the second to last forum for candidates. 

"I know that our touch and our work with our students really make a difference," Burke said.

She is currently the vice provost of student affairs and dean of the graduate school at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Burke has also had roles as an associate dean, department head and professor for UNCG's music program.

"I know you've been through a whole lot of hurt, and I'm not going to make decisions until I know where the pain really is," she said.

While discussing the issues with enrollment, Burke focused on recruiting in underserved areas. 

"If you're recruiting in areas where there are a lot of underrepresented populations, those students can be brought on campus, they need to start to feel like (they) belong here," she said.

Burke prefaced that faculty are an important resource in the recruitment of new students. Faculty members should be sent into schools and communities for recruitment purposes where students can begin to form relationships with members of the schools.

"You don't have to sell yourself to the people that already know you," Burke said.

Strategically, Burke spoke about ways to retain students that are already attending CMU as a way to bolster recruitment. A focus on student services that support students through graduation, including those beyond academics.

"It's not just tutoring, sometimes it's $50 to pay their rent so they can stay in school," she said.

Additional strategies highlighted by Burke were the reassessing of successes in terms of measurable outcomes. Ways to measure include the satisfaction of the programs and exposure of students to new ideas. 

" I think it would be easy to represent (the arts) to the external world because what we do is amazing and the person who's not in the arts doesn't understand the magic," Burke said.

Candidates Michael Thrasher and Jefferson Campbell have already spoken, and the final candidate to speak will be Jeff Ward on Dec. 3.

Students can also interact with the candidates through a virtual stream or a student forum in Moore Hall.