Founded in 1925 as a private institution, the University of Baltimore (UB) is a public undergraduate, graduate and professional university located in the heart of Maryland’s largest city. UB’s schools and colleges provide real-world education in business, law, public affairs and the applied arts and sciences.
As associate vice president for student affairs in the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, Shelia Higgs Burkhalter leads 37 full-time and 15 part-time staff members across many departments within the division, including the achievement and learning center, campus recreation and wellness, the career and professional development center, the counseling center, the center for educational access, the office of community life, the Rosenberg Center for Student Involvement, the diversity and culture center, the student center and UB Living, to name a few.
Higgs Burkhalter and her staff recognize the importance of diversity and how it shapes their work with students. A few years ago, the division created a robust professional development program for staff members that supplements subject matter expertise with information about current enrollment trends, developmental theory and standards, as well as a philosophy of student affairs practitioners as educators.
It is clear that UB’s student affairs division is committed to diversity and inclusion. Higgs Burkhalter stresses, “Just because we have a diverse population on our campus, it doesn’t mean we are where we could be in terms of equity, diversity [and] inclusion.” Besides working to foster inclusion for students, “[UB student affairs staff members work to ensure they they] feel comfortable in that [diverse] environment and are given the tools and support and resources they need in order to thrive,” according to Higgs Burkhalter.
Higgs Burkhalter celebrates the success of her staff. “I work with a small but mighty group of student affairs folks … staff ready to move to the next level,” she shares. “…[Indeed] to be a student affairs professional at UB is a rewarding experience where you are valued as an individual for the talents, gifts and strengths you bring to the table.”
Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?