Dr. Susan Burns on Leading During a Pandemic

Dr. Susan Burns on Leading During a Pandemic

In this week’s episode, Thomas sits down with Dr. Susan Burns, the President of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. She became President of the college in the middle of a pandemic, so they discuss the immediate action items she took, the methods of communication she used, the challenges she faced, and how she feels COVID-19 has changed higher education.

To begin their conversation, Dr. Burns shares her educational background with Thomas. She discusses growing up in Topeka, Kansas and being a first-generation graduate. Dr. Burns then talks about a scholarship mishap which caused her to pivot and led her to attending Emporia State University, focusing on psychology and music. Dr. Burns touches on the importance of mentorship and how her mentor encouraged her to pursue a master’s degree, which is when she discovered her love for teaching. Through her passion of teaching and mentorship, she grew her career in the field.

After talking about Dr. Burn’s career path, Thomas asks her about what her interview process looked like for her current position during COVID-19. She goes on to share how long and detailed the interview process was—taking nearly 8 months. Once she accepted the offer, she describes what her role has looked like taking on the position of President of a university in the midst of a global pandemic. Dr. Burns gives insight on her leadership style and how she holds strong beliefs in collaborative efforts, which with everyone coming together led to the institution being able to maintain safe and successful in-person learning.

She then goes on to talk about how she communicated what their plan was for learning during a pandemic and how she handled communicating  other major social issues that transpired during that time, like the insurrection of the Capitol. To conclude their conversation, Thomas and Dr. Burns highlight what they believe to be the positive and negative impacts that the pandemic had to the field of higher education. Thomas wraps up the episode by sharing his financial planning educational opportunity. This time, he shares the difference between a will and a trust. Check out the episode to hear his insights!

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