Lenoir-Rhyne hires new provost

Jennifer L. Burris has held progressive leadership roles at Appalachian State University and is a strong advocate for student success and diversity, equity and inclusion in academia.

Dr. Jennifer L. Burris
Jennifer L. Burris

Lenoir-Rhyne has hired Jennifer L. Burris, Ph.D., as vice president for academic affairs and provost. In addition, Burris will hold the rank of tenured professor in physics. Burris’ appointment comes after a national search conducted with the assistance of Coleman Lew Canny Bowen search firm that produced almost 150 candidates. Burris will begin her role at LR in June and will report directly to Lenoir-Rhyne President Dr. Fred Whitt.

Burris is currently the chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Appalachian State University. At ASU, she also has served as chair of the Council of Chairs, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and as the graduate program director for the M.S. Engineering Physics program.

A passionate advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion, Burris sits on the board and has served as the chair of the North Carolina BRIDGES Academic Leadership Program, which supports gender equity in academia, and is a board member of the North Carolina chapter of the American Council on Education Women’s Network. In addition, she is the primary investigator on a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program, aimed at recruitment and retention of women faculty in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Burris will join LR in this important role,” said Whitt. “She was highly recommended by the search committee and the feedback received from faculty, staff and administrators was incredibly positive. She brings with her enthusiasm and energy for our strategic plan, and I look forward to collaborating with her to advance the mission of Lenoir-Rhyne in exciting ways.”

Burris will supervise LR’s six colleges (Business and Economics, Education and Human Services, Health Sciences, Fine Arts and Communications, Natural Science and Mathematics, and Humanities and Social Sciences) as well as the library, institutional assessment and various academic centers and institute directors.

“I am honored to be joining the Lenoir-Rhyne family and excited for the opportunity to work with President Whitt and the LR community,” Burris said. “I look forward to partnering with the vice presidents and deans in forwarding the mission of LR and pivoting to a new level of excellence. I am also thrilled to collaborate with faculty and staff to support the success of our students and continue building LR’s reputation as an inclusive and exceptional university whose community leaves the world better than how we found it. Go Bears!”

Burris began her career in Colorado teaching at Colorado State University and Aims Community College as an adjunct faculty member. She joined Appalachian State University in 2007 and has held progressive leadership roles, including chair of one of the largest physics programs in the country, associate dean of a large multidisciplinary college, and chair of the Council of Chairs, which leads all ASU department leaders.

Burris received her Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science, with a concentration in physics, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a master’s degree and doctorate in physics from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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