Cathy Burack is Associate Director and Senior Fellow for Higher Education at the Center for Youth and Communities (CYC) in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Prior to coming to Brandeis, Cathy was the Associate Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE).
For the past eighteen years Cathy has focused on ways faculty, students and administrators can work together to fulfill the civic missions of their colleges and universities. This focus has been on two interrelated areas: access to higher education, especially by students who are among the first in their families to attend; and the ways in which colleges and universities engage with their communities. Her work has taken several forms including facilitating Think Tanks for senior campus administrators; co-coordinating and facilitating Wingspread meetings focused on the civic mission of research universities; directing various funded projects including Project Engage, a mini-grants program that supported student, faculty and community research teams working together on a community defined problem; and extensive work with faculty from a wide variety of institutions.
Through her work at CYC Cathy works with colleges and universities to use evaluation to both “prove” and “improve” their programs. Her research and capacity-building efforts attend to both outcomes and systemic change. To that end Cathy has conducted evaluations of campus-based change initiatives including conducting a national evaluation of institutional support for service-learning, developing measures of student success, helping to set up the Corporation for National and Community Service Learn and Serve America LASSIE data collection system, and conducting multi-site evaluations on campus-wide change initiatives. Cathy is currently co-Principal Investigator of the evaluation of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Community College Transfer Initiative, an initiative designed to enable low- and moderate-income, academically able, community college students to transfer to selective colleges and universities, and of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Project Compass, a program focused on the retention of underserved students.
Cathy is a member of the National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement, a Campus Compact Engaged Scholar, and a member of the Advisory Board for the UMass Amherst Master's track in Service-Learning and Engagement. She started and facilitated the NERCHE Multicultural Affairs Directors Think Tank for directors at colleges and universities throughout New England, and directed "Reversing the Telescope: Community Development from Within," which focused on the civic microcosm within the university community. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the Boston City Wide Dialogues on Race project.
Cathy holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Rochester, and a Doctorate in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. Cathy's work is under-girded by her core beliefs in the power of reflective practice, collaboration, importance of creating learning organizations, capacity building, and development of communities and the individuals who inhabit them.
University of Rochester