Hand-picked by Dr. Peter Armacost, Cheryl arrived in 2004 to head the Center for Learning and Teaching. It was just after denationalization, and the liberal arts Baccalaureate curriculum was so new there were no academic policies or procedures in place. Cheryl helped Dr. Armacost type and edit the first course catalog. That’s how new everything was.
Cheryl worked to establish those new policies and procedures and helped train the faculty. She began teaching in the Intermediate program. By 2005, Cheryl was Dean of Students. She created a student leadership structure, which included students running the societies, creating budgets, and planning their activities. This is still in place today.
In 2006, Dr. Armacost asked Cheryl to head the committee tasked with designing the campus center. An idea unheard of in Pakistan, it took a lot of explanation as to why this would benefit the students. In the end, Forman staff designed the building with Cheryl’s participation along the way. Thirteen years later, construction began. Sometimes, things take longer in Pakistan.
Over the next five years, many pieces fell into place. Cheryl established faculty-led student academic advising and the policy on the declaration of majors. She began meeting with incoming freshman women about harassment and how to respond to it. Cheryl continued her involvement in the Christian Life program both on campus and on retreats with students. She estimated 75% of her day was spent directly dealing with students.
Also, during this time, Cheryl began looking for housing for women, initially finding it off-campus, then in Shirazi Hall, and eventually Hope Tower. The first graduation of the new Forman era was in 2008. She was in charge of student management, initiating the graduates-only party the night before graduation. This tradition happens every year.
It wasn’t all about celebration and growth. Cheryl worked with others to be ready for the potential of security threats. She also planted the seed for what would become the Campus Counseling Center. Students need many kinds of support. You can’t be too prepared.
In 2011, Cheryl continued as Dean of Students and supervised Student Activities, Career Services, International Education,and student counseling. She took over the responsibility for the campus hostels and food service. Through no fault of her own, it was a rough transition from the old way of management to the new. This established a Residential Life office and a Food & Beverages office, unifying the management of both. Change can be hard!
To better serve students, offices continued to divide and became more specialized. Construction on Mercy Health Center began. In 2015, Cheryl received an expanded title to go with her increased responsibilities. She became the Chief Student Affairs Officer with twelve direct reports and a staff of one-hundred. At this point, Cheryl oversaw Student Activities, Residential Life, Food & Beverages, Mercy Health Center, Campus Counseling Center, Career Services, International Education, Internships, Christian Life, Events & Facilities Management, the Proctor’s Office, and academic advising. When she announced she planned to go home, her job was split into two, becoming Student Life and Student Services. In 2018 and 2019, promotions made to head these two divisions came from within the departments. You’re only as good as the people you hire.
Currently, Cheryl heads the new Academic Advising Center. Like everything else, this comes from her heart. This center grew from the observation that Forman needs to do more to help students not fall behind and to graduate on time. Always leading by example, Cheryl has hired and trained her replacements, and she knows she leaves each department ready to help the next generation of students. In her time, she’s seen the Forman culture become very student-centered, and Cheryl is very proud of this. It can be credited to her tireless work and her willingness to build from the ground up. She is quick to add that she did not accomplish any of these things without a lot of teamwork from the FCCU community. She thanks her many supporters in the US, led by Peachtree Church. We are grateful for Cheryl and her many gifts, but perhaps her students are the most grateful. They showed their gratitude by creating an endowed scholarship in her honor. By love serve one another.
The Cheryl Burke Scholarship Endowment at Forman Christian College was started by alumni who directly benefitted from Cheryl’s guidance and care. Gifts for The Cheryl Burke Endowment or for campus center construction can be made through our website at FriendsOfForman.org/Donate. If you chose to send a check, please make a note in the memo line identifying the program you wish to support.