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Examining Educational Equity in Leadership - Dr. Jorge Burmicky

Title: Assistant Professor of Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies, School of Education, Howard University 

Tenured: No

Age: 38

Education: B.A., international business, Taylor University; M.A., student affairs administration/higher education, Ball State University, Teachers College; Certificate, College and University Teaching, Ball State University, Teachers College; Ph.D., educational leadership and policy, University of Texas at Austin, College of Education

Career mentors: Dr. Victor B. Sáenz, University of Texas at Austin; Dr. Pamela L. Eddy, William & Mary; Dr. Melanie Carter, Howard University; Dr. Robert T. Palmer, Howard University; Dr. Audrey J. Jaeger, NC State University; and Dr. Richard J. Reddick, University of Texas at Austin

Words of wisdom/advice for new faculty members: “Make your career journey what you want it to be and don’t wait for others to define it for you.”

For Dr. Jorge Burmicky, an assistant professor of Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies at Howard University, his time in doctoral studies was transformative to his career in higher education. He returned to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. with a desire to delve into research on the issues he’d seen firsthand.

“Before joining the academy, I was a student affairs professional, so I’m always thinking, how can my research be translated or put into the hands of practitioners that can actually implement and make a difference,” says Burmicky. “For me to be able to do that, I have to contextualize my research within the various identities of my participants and also within the context which they’re in. Otherwise, the research becomes irrelevant.”

Dr. Victor B. Sáenz is the associate dean for Student Success, Community Engagement & Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. Sáenz says Burmicky came to UT Austin already an experienced higher education practitioner who wanted to do research on problems of practice with an equity lens. This area of his research focuses on presidential leadership, with an emphasis on equity-minded and socially just leadership at minority-serving institutions, community colleges, and broadly accessible institutions.

“I was privileged to work with him in cultivating a research agenda focused on growing the pipeline of higher education leaders from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds,” says Sáenz. “His research contributions in this space have yielded actionable recommendations that institutions can put to use in expanding their pipeline of diverse leaders.”

Burmicky currently has a book proposal on the subject and is working with a consulting firm on a presidential leadership competency study.

Dr. Robert T. Palmer, department chair and professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Howard University, says Burmicky’s research is impactful, particularly as it relates to Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Burmicky also forges genuine connections with the graduate students the department serves.

“He loves to support students by engaging them in research and giving students the opportunity to collaborate,” says Palmer. “He tries to expose students to various facets of the academy by engaging them in conference presentations and broadening their understanding of various policy and leadership organizations.”

Burmicky’s research also explores policies and practices related to men of color, specifically the impact of men of color programs in student success, Latinx men in community colleges, and promising student affairs practices for serving Latinx men. Community colleges have emerged as leaders in developing men of color programs, he says, because such institutions serve as the primary gateway to postsecondary education for a lot of men of color, particularly Latinx men.

“Most of our institutions, particularly minority serving institutions and community colleges, are fighting for resources,” Burmicky says. “A lot of these programs spend so much of their time and energy just to define their mere existence even though the data are clear . . . when you look at outcomes for Black and Latinx men.”

His research shows that even established programs can disappear. Such programs often are not institutionalized and have part-time oversight from someone in the faculty or student affairs. So, if that person leaves, the program ends. There needs to be institutional buy-in from administration, which he tries to clearly illustrate in his published research. He emphasizes the importance of disaggregating data.

“The more you disaggregate data, [the more] you’re able to see what’s happening through a more nuanced lens,” he says. “Men of color are so many different groups that have so many different needs . . .  Contextual fields are really important. That’s where you get to do research that is more meaningful and targeted, but also you get to suggest more applicable solutions.”


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