New Arts and Sciences Dean brings experience

The new Dean of Arts & Sciences, Carmen Burkhalter (right), is chatting with a fellow colleague during a faculty meeting.

Students who enter the office of the new Dean of Arts and Sciences will find a comfy atmosphere along with a straight-back chair and a coffee table covered with papers and files.

Carmen Burkhalter fills the position left vacant when former Dean Vagn Hansen left earlier this year.

She brings over ten years experience as a dean to UNA. Previously, she was department chair of criminal justice, a tenured associate professor and a tenured professor of communicative disorders at the University of Alabama.

“I will be spending a lot of time getting to know as much as I can about all departments in the College (of Arts and Sciences),” she said. “I want to develop a plan so we can grow all majors and be part of new initiatives at UNA like increasing international learning opportunities for our students.”

Just as if she were a student, Burkhalter enjoys her free time. She can often be found gardening, canning vegetables, reading mystery novels or sci-fi books, or traveling while away from campus.

“I would like to travel to the equator,” she said. “Besides being a great lifetime story it would be very cool to observe the magnetic forces there. I hear that because of gravity differences, water runs differently and that an egg can balance on a nail.”

Burkhalter’s love of travelling came from her mother. As a social worker, her mother worked with refugee families and children. Her mother’s goals contributed to her own love of international learning, she said.

“My mother always said ‘work hard and have a good attitude,’” she said. “I have found that everything else will take care of itself.”

“On the personal side she is warm and friendly,” said Interim President John Thornell. “She is also very data-driven and student-oriented.”

Her plan for the fall academic term is focused on assessment and development.

“We want students to communicate with us about what will help them be maximally successful,” Burkhalter said. “If there are stumbling blocks in a student’s educational journey, we want to work to find solutions.”

Her diverse experience leads her to think innovatively, said Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Thomas Calhoun.

“She brings fresh and exciting ideas to this university and she’s a wonderful new colleague,” he said.

The College of Arts and Sciences is now utilizing social media to keep students in the loop and can be found on Facebook, Burkhalter said.