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Getting to Know Dean Kevin L. Burke

Kevin BurkeDr. Kevin L. Burke, Dean

When he accepted the post as dean of the Andrew Blair College of Health earlier this year, Dr. Kevin L. Burke was pleased to be coming home. A native of Gastonia, North Carolina, Burke is also a graduate of Belmont Abbey College, located just outside Charlotte. 

Although his academic career has taken him all over the Midwest and Southeast, Burke "always hoped to come back to this area. My roots are here; my family is here. When I learned about Queens' vision for the Blair College I thought it was the perfect opportunity."

Burke graduated from Belmont Abbey with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and recreation management (a double major) and a minor in sociology. He was a talented scholar and intercollegiate tennis player. He later earned a Master of Arts degree in social/organizational psychology at East Carolina University, an Education Specialist degree (a degree just below a doctorate) in counseling from Georgia Southern University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in sport psychology at Florida State University

Burke went on to build a distinguished career in sport psychology as a professor, researcher, and consultant. He is both a prolific writer and editor, and has worked with professional, collegiate, high school and recreational athletes as a sport psychology consultant.  He helped form the Association for Applied Sport Psychology in which he was awarded a lifetime membership earlier this year for his efforts in the establishment of this influential international organization.

Burke joins Queens from Towson University where he served as the chair of the Department of Kinesiology. He also served as a director/chair at Illinois State and East Tennessee State Universities.

We spoke with Dean Burke recently about his plans for the Blair College.

You've introduced several new majors this year, in exercise and sport sciences, allied health, interdisciplinary health services and sport management.  What was the impetus for adding those areas of study?

Our new Kinesiology Department is excited to be offering several new high-demand majors that give students pathways to popular "people-helping" professions.  As we were developing these majors we considered a number of aspects: the strength of Queens' current course offerings; the high demand for careers in sports, fitness and healthcare; and our ability to capitalize on the partnership and internship opportunities our location in Charlotte affords us.

These four majors are grounded in the liberal arts tradition and are interdisciplinary in nature, as students will be encouraged to take several courses from other departments. For instance, students in Sport Management will be encouraged to earn a minor in either business or communication, while students in allied health may choose a minor in psychology, biology, or chemistry. 

Also, we wanted to offer additional opportunities for students pursuing careers in health care. The Allied Health, Interdisciplinary Health Services, and Exercise and Sport Sciences majors all provide that avenue. Students who want to become physical or occupational therapists may complete degrees in allied health or exercise and sport sciences. The interdisciplinary health services major will also allow that opportunity, but is particularly designed for students who wish to work in the management of, or research in, health care.

All four of the majors will prepare students to seek a graduate degree in these related areas.

The Blair College houses several related but different disciplines. How does the Presbyterian School of Nursing fit into your vision for the school?

The Presbyterian School of Nursing has been, and will continue to be, a strong foundation of the Blair College and Queens University. The Institute of Medicine has challenged nursing schools to prepare a higher proportion of baccalaureate degree earned nurses by the year 2020. Therefore, we plan to initiate a stronger focus on bachelor-level nursing education. Also, we are exploring the feasibility of adding a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in the near future. What I am most proud of is the PSON has excellent, student-centered faculty who give our nursing education programs an important advantage over other colleges and universities.

We've read that your current research interests include humor, optimism, coaching contracts, personal control, momentum, superstitions and ritual.  Tell us about that!

My research interests have usually focused on "positive psychology" components (particularly in sports) such as humor, optimism, and feeling in control of our lives. For example, I've always been interested in how perceptions of self and others may be influenced by a sense of humor, having a positive attitude, and/or feeling in control of your life or sport circumstances.

Recently, I have investigated unique aspects of college coaching contracts. In other words, a colleague and I are investigating the lack of emphasis placed on academic incentives (financial bonuses), as compared to athletic incentives, in college coaches' contracts.

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