Meet Carol Burton, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies

College is a time of change and new beginnings, and no one quite understands this concept quite like Carol Burton.

   Native born of London until her parents moved back to Jamaica when she was a teenager where she went to an all-girls private academy, Burton was sent off to Western Carolina University when she was eighteen.

   Having never set foot away from home, it was a big change. It should come as no surprise that she was wracked with nerves but soon came to love and appreciate the campus and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and all it could offer her.

   Burton received two degrees from WCU: one in nutrition and dieticians, the other in counseling.

   In 2007, she finished her doctorate in adult and higher education at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

   As the current Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies, Carol Burton considers her occupation less of a job and more like her life and blood.

   She loves her work and that passion has helped her since her youth, back when she was just a young girl traveling to North Carolina on her mother’s expectations.

   Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies is a title for which many students on WCU campus may not be familiar with or even know what it entitles. Burton oversees the liberal studies programs, faculty committee, and works to implement Synthesis, promote research, student jobs, service learning and scholarships. There are 33 departments each with their own unique needs, which Burton assists with.

   Synthesis is the program Burton is currently in charge of, which she received when WCU hired her in 2007.

   Its goals are to assist students in learning that jobs, life outside of school, leadership prospects, clubs and study aboard opportunities are all preparing them for life outside of college. Synthesis or Quality Enhancement Plan has a formalized engagement with the community in order to help the students and the environment around them. QEP is there to help enrich students’ life and help them manifest opportunities.

   “Graduate students have the whole picture, and Synthesis is there to help undergraduates get away from the check box mentality,” says Burton.

   For every paper that crosses her desk Burton has two criteria for it to be approved.

   First, does it foster and advance student engagement? Secondly, will it promote faculty work? If the two criterion are met it is almost guaranteed for her to approve.

   Burton’s work is such a large part of her life. She listed it as one of her life accomplishments.

   Burton considers one of the most influential moments of her career when, during the Chancellors’ Leadership Council’s vote for which area of the schools promoted community engagement, Joe Walker, the director of facilities management, voted for the QEP program.

   Burton was proud of this because he was so far removed from their program yet he understood the institutional message that they where trying to uphold.

   “Not all of us are born to be inspiring leaders, but we can have meaning in our work and make a difference,” says Burton.

   According to Burton, she is a closet history buff. She has learned more about WCU and Cullowhee by being the chair for the historical sub-committee, which is working on the 125 anniversary celebrations.

   For such a busy woman it can be hard to find time to relax and take time to oneself. Burton enjoys watching television and listed Downtown Abbey as her favorite television show.

   Burton loves to have spa days to unwind, while also enjoying leisurely walks on WCU campus and Lake Junaluska but it is traveling which she finds most relaxing and enjoyable.

   She loves to visit her two brothers who live in London, her sister in South Florida and her parents who are still in Jamaica.

   When teaching a class called “Secrets of Powerful Women,” Burton invited the students to anonymously ask her questions.

One of the most profound questions asked of her was, “Are you happy?” to which she honestly replied “I feel my mortality, but I’ve had such a great life. I don’t feel that anything is lacking. Yes I’m happy.”