South Central College will host open forums to gain input on the college’s four finalists for the position of Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs.

“The Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs is an integral position impacting the success of all our students, so we hope to get as much feedback on our finalists as possible from our students, faculty and staff, and community members,” said Dr. Annette Parker, president of South Central College.

All forums will take place on Wednesday, April 18 in Conference Center B on South Central College’s North Mankato Campus and via interactive television in the President’s Conference Room on the Faribault Campus.

The finalists and their forum times are as follows:  

Barb Embacher:  9:45 - 10:30 a.m.             
Dr. Jonathan Keiser:  10:45 - 11:30 a.m.           
Dr. DeAnna Burt:  12:00 - 12:45 p.m.           
Dr. Ted Lewis:  1:00 - 1:45 p.m.                    

Following are the bios each candidate provided. 

Dr. DeAnna Burt

VP Candidate DeAnnaDr. DeAnna R. Burt has over 18 years of experience supporting students, faculty and staff in a higher education setting, most recently as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Baker College of Muskegon (Michigan), one of 9 on-ground campuses and an online college comprising a comprehensive system with students enrolled worldwide in allied health, business, education, engineering, general education, human service, other health science, and technology programs.

Dr. Burt has provided stabilizing academic leadership for a main campus with two extension sites--Baker College of Muskegon at Fremont (Michigan) and the Culinary Institute of Michigan-Muskegon.

She joined Baker College in 1999 where she served in various campus and system roles as faculty, Department Chair, Dean, System Department Coordinator, Chief Academic Officer, and Vice President of Academics Affairs, as a first among equal members of the president’s cabinet until her honorable departure in March 2018. She is known for her exemplary leadership of a combination of academic and student affairs functions of the operation. Her contributions bear evidence throughout the community and the Baker College System where she served on nearly all key campus and System strategic initiatives with positive impact on student access, achievement, and completion, as well as operational efficiencies. Prior to joining Baker College, Dr. Burt was employed as the Information Technology Manager with a Michigan-based affiliate of an international chemical manufacturer and also served in the roles of computer programmer and systems analyst for a major Midwest retailer. But, it was in the role of adjunct faculty for a community college that Dr. Burt discovered her vocation as an educator, which ultimately guided her to opportunities for full-time teaching and progressive advancement in the role of administrator where she continues to leverage her passion and influence to shape higher education policy and practice.

A community servant, Dr. Burt works tirelessly for advancement among all in the areas of diversity and inclusion, education, philanthropy, socioeconomic equality, and workforce development at the local, state, and national levels.

To this end, she currently serves as a trustee for one of the nation’s Top 100 Largest Community Foundations as an appointed executive board member, strategic leadership committee member, and as chairperson of the grant distribution committee which determines the allocation of monetary resources throughout the community. Dr. Burt also serves as a member of the executive board for the Michigan American Council on Education (MI-ACE), an affiliate of the nationally recognized American Council on Education (ACE) with notable contributions as Chair of the Membership (fundraising) Committee, and contributions also to its subcommittees for public relations and public policy in higher education.

Dr. Burt is often characterized as an authentic, collegial, dynamic, inspiring, process-oriented, and visionary leader, a woman of integrity who is passionate about education. She is a relationship-builder. Dr. Burt studied in Mexico, has received a host of awards and recognitions, and speaks publicly in various personal and professional capacities.

Academically, Dr. Burt holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership, Research and Technology (Western Michigan University), which earned her international recognition as a 2008-2009 ASHE/Lumina Fellow “for innovative scholarship examining social, institutional, and policy barriers to opportunity and student success.” Her research interests include academic advising strategies in higher education, change management, learning communities, open-enrollment institutions, student persistence and retention, and support for underrepresented and underserved populations including minorities and those with learning disabilities. Dr. Burt also holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems with minors in business and religion, both from Western Michigan University where she is a graduate of the Lee Honors College.

She currently resides in Michigan.

Barb Embacher

VP Candidate BarbBarb Embacher has had a passion for teaching and learning since she was a little girl. She began her career as a secondary Special Education Teacher, where she learned how rewarding it is to help students find their passion and talents and empower them to tackle their unique challenges to help them succeed. She then became a Transition Coordinator and Career and Technical Education Coordinator for the Mankato Public Schools, while also teaching graduate online and face-to-face classes as an adjunct faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato in the College of Education Master's Degree program. Next, she spent six years as the Vice President of Greater Mankato Growth, where she led the talent and community initiatives of the region to assist over 800 businesses, non-profits, and public entities to work together to enhance economic vitality in the region. Most recently, Barb has served South Central College as the Dean of Career & Technical Education (formerly known as Dean of Workforce Education & Training). Barb has a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education, a Master's Degree in Education Leadership, and has been accepted to begin her PhD in Higher Education Leadership in the fall.

Dr. Jonathan Keiser

VP Candidate JonathanDr. Jonathan Keiser has held leadership roles in higher education for the past 13 years including positions at Dunwoody College of Technology, The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Columbia College Chicago and is currently the Deputy Provost at City Colleges of Chicago. As Deputy Provost (and previously Associate Vice Chancellor), he has been responsible for improving educational quality across seven colleges serving 80,000 students. The scope of this work includes developing and maintaining academic policy, procedures and systems, serving as an administrative liaison to unions and the faculty governing body, districtwide faculty development initiatives, academic supports for students including utilization of tutoring centers and advising services, faculty participation in the early alert system, and developmental education curriculum. In addition, he has responsibilities for regional and specialized accreditations, assessment of student learning, high school concurrent enrollment programs, and budget management and annual planning of approximately $4.5 million. Jonathan serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education (AALHE) and is a mentor for institutions in the HLC’s assessment program, The Academy for Assessment of Student Learning.

Dr. Jonathan Keiser has a B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Business Administration, Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA); an M.S. in Biology, University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL); and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education with a minor in Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN).

Dr. Ted Lewis

VP Candidate TedTed holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master of Science in Political Science from the University of North Texas, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration with a specialization in Community College Leadership, from the University of Texas at Austin.

For the past six years, Ted has served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Pellissippi State Community College. Under his leadership, Pellissippi State has developed more than one dozen new academic and career technical programs, concentrations, and certificates as well as been recognized for its instructional programs and services by the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Council of Instructional Administrators, the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida, the Institute of International Education, and the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Ted has taught for over thirty years at the college level and has been inducted into Who’s Who Among American Teachers. He was founding dean of instruction at Lone Star College-CyFair, serving in that capacity for over nine years. Previously, Ted served as Department Chairperson at Collin County Community College and Director of its national Bellwether Award-winning learning communities program. Ted has conducted workshops and delivered presentations on curriculum development, community partnerships, workforce education, and active learning strategies for the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Association for Higher Education, the Community College of Qatar, the League for Innovation in the Community College, the National Council of Instructional Administrators, the National Council for Workforce Education, and other international educational organizations. An award-winning author, Ted has also written about and published research in such periodicals as the Community College Daily, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, the Journal of the League for Innovation in the Community College, and the National Social Science Journal.

Ted has served on several educational boards and foundations and is president-elect of the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges. He is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow and former club president. Active in his community, Ted is chairman of the Historic Ramsey House Board of Directors and serves on the Knoxville Area Urban League Board of Directors, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Advisory Committee, and the Great Schools Partnership Community Schools Taskforce. He is an alumnus of Leadership Knoxville and serves as mentor to more than 20 scholarship recipients.