As a first-generation college student herself, incoming Interim President Marie-Elaine Burns understands the obstacles many Merritt students face and the support they need to be successful. From the beginning of her long career in higher education, which started in EOPS, she says, “I made a conscious decision to remove the obstacles for people who don’t have the opportunity to get an education.”
After being introduced by Chancellor Jowel Laguerre at an Open Forum with the Merritt community on July 21, Dr. Burns went on to talk about her educational background, her love of community colleges, and the importance of communication. “I’m a ‘walkaround’ leader, “ she said. “I’m accessible. I believe in transparency, honesty, and integrity. We’re all in this together. I value all of my staff, and I want to know your needs and concerns.”
She then asked the audience about their goals, and answered questions about equity, health services, employee training, and the importance of going out in the community to form partnerships. In response to student Myeisha Williams’ comments on the importance of student activities, she agreed that student life, including student government, was an important part of getting a well-rounded education.
Dr. Burns, who comes to Merritt from San Jose City College where she served as Vice President of Special Services, will begin her new role at Merritt on August 2. See more photos from the forum below and her full bio here.