New assistant vice provost appointed

Burns-Wallace hopes to assess and reduce gaps in MU’s student resources.

Navigating through the store to find school supplies excited DeAngela Burns-Wallace, but when she navigated through Stanford University as a first generation college student, she needed a different set of school supplies: university resources.

As the new assistant vice provost for undergraduate studies at MU, she will be searching for ways to help students access resources so they can be more successful.

“The resources to build my future began (at Stanford),” Burns-Wallace said.

Her scholarship didn’t cover all the costs of her education, so Burns-Wallace was looking for ways to fund the rest of her education when she received an invitation from the undergraduate director to a fellowship dinner.

There, Burns-Wallace learned about the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which would cover the rest of her undergraduate costs, give her the chance to study at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and get her started on a career path with the U.S. State Department.

A year later, she was one of ten in the nation to receive the fellowship.

“I didn’t have a clear concept of what a fellowship was until that dinner,” Burns-Wallace said. “It changed my path.”

Burns-Wallace has been working to change MU students’ paths since 2009.

As director of access initiatives, Burns-Wallace coordinated MU’s statewide college access strategy and focused on increasing college readiness.

“I want students to be not only surviving or making it,” Burns-Wallace said. “I want them to be thriving and engaging in the institutional environment.”

Burns-Wallace’s new position is the result of a collective effort among the offices of Enrollment Management, Student Affairs and Undergraduate Studies to increase freshman retention and graduation rates.

“The student is like a tightrope walker,” Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain said. “But there are gaps in the safety net beneath the walker. We want to minimize the risk of students falling through the gaps. (Burns-Wallace) has demonstrated she not only understands the big picture or broad issue, but she can turn those ideas into specific action items.”

Burns-Wallace said she wants to start conversations across campus and examine MU’s student-resource landscape to better understand the gaps that exist and how to reduce those gaps.

Spain said Burns-Wallace’s passion and empathy struck him when she told Spain about her parents’ work and sacrifices, which paved the way for her education.

“She understands and appreciates what families have done and sacrificed,” Spain said. “She understands how special and meaningful this opportunity is, not just for students, but for their families.”

The efforts to improve student success will also focus on including better support for families, Spain said.

“We have a responsibility that we’re putting resources out there,” Burns-Wallace said. “We need to meet students where they are.”

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