Burns, who served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the past 17 years, will be project manager of the Carnegie grant in his new AVP assignment [see related story].
"As the University becomes more research-oriented, there has to be some positive effort to maintain the focus on teaching and relations between faculty and undergraduates," Burns said.
"I see myself as trying to develop, experiment with and try different kinds of programmatic things that would help undergraduates make the best use of our resources."
Burns said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John J. Neuhauser has emphasized that part of the Carnegie grant will be used to better aspects of the undergraduate experience, and Burns sees his new role as ensuring that "undergraduate-oriented programs - whether in advising or whether they are different kinds of teaching, like our current Capstone or Cornerstone programs - get some attention.
"At a research university undergraduate education doesn't necessarily get downplayed," Burns explained, "but with the research interests and faculty development interests, learning for undergraduates becomes less of a priority.
"So even though a research university is an unparalleled set of opportunities for undergraduates, in fact it takes some guidance to help them make the most of it," he said.
He said one issue that will attract his immediate focus is linking and integrating residential life, student affairs and student development with academic life.
Burns will continue working with the A&S dean's office on a part-time basis until his replacement is named.
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