Undergraduate Academic Affairs

October 22, 2020

Ryan Burt named director of Academic Support Programs

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Congratulations to Ryan Burt, who was appointed the new director of Academic Support Programs in September, 2020. 

Academic Support Programs runs the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE) — a free, late night, peer-to-peer, drop-in tutoring program and academic support coaches, a peer-to-peer coaching program. Academic Support Programs sits within Student Academic Services along with First Year Programs and Undergraduate Academic Affairs Advising. Burt explains that being situated here “creates really powerful opportunities to collaborate with First Year Programs and UAA Advising. This is a great space for us to think creatively and collaboratively about supporting the transitional experiences of first-year and pre-major students, especially in this virtual world.” 

Photo of Ryan Burt

Ryan Burt, photographed at CLUE — a free, late night, peer-to-peer, drop-in tutoring program — in 2018. Academic Support Programs runs CLUE, along with the academic success coaching program.

Inclusiveness is central to Academic Support Programs’ work. When examining the effectiveness of their programs, Burt and team ask who is coming, and more importantly, who isn’t coming and why? Even before the pandemic hit, Burt and his team were planning to offer their services online to make it easier for students to access these resources. The University’s move to online learning in spring 2020 sped up the timeline for this change. 

“We’re working to make the online experience a rich one. Even though it’s a challenging year, there is still a lot of possibility of collaborating differently in the virtual setting.” Burt explains “I want students to know we care about each of them. We know that being a student at a large public university can be overwhelming, daunting. That’s where we come in: we’re their academic home away from home.” 

Associate Dean Michaelann Jundt shares, “I am thrilled to have Ryan leading Academic Support Programs. His curiosity fuels his dedication to deep learning and informs his leadership. I am impressed by how well he handles unexpected change and the ways he has embraced collaborative projects. His commitment to students will continue to move us forward in supporting UW student success.” 

Academic Support Programs’ offerings rely on students teaching other students. The peer-to-peer model is impactful. Students learn from other Huskies who are going through similar experiences and challenges. It allows them to relate and to learn from someone who is balancing the demands of student life, just like they are. To that end, Academic Support Programs increased the number of student coaches they hired in spring 2020 to both provide jobs for students who may have otherwise lost them and to be able to better serve UW undergrads. 

To all faculty, staff and students thinking creatively about how to best support students, please reach out. Academic Support Programs is eager to connect, share ideas and work together.

Burt and team are eager to collaborate across campus. Because they work with both faculty and students, they have a unique vantage point to see both the faculty’s learning goals and how students are understanding the class material. They are available to meet with faculty and staff to share their observations and help support their classes. 

Burt’s involvement with Academic Support Programs began in 2013, when he was a program manager. His work included overseeing the CLUE writing center and teaching academic support classes for multilingual students. The majority of students Burt was working with were international students, so Burt co-founded the International Student Success Committee. The Committee’s work brought together colleagues serving international students together to focus on enriching the international student college experience. 

Burt continued to grow his career in Academic Support Services, serving as senior program manager, assistant director and most recently served as interim director. He continues to focus on how to best support the University’s diverse undergraduate student population. 

He is a triple Dawg, earning his Ph.D. in English literature. His graduate work focused on critical multiculturalism in literature. He also holds a B.A. in both the comparative history of ideas and literature, and an M.A. in literature. He led the Academic Support Programs course English 295: Imagination, Immigration and Identity in Post-Colonial Rome and spent two years as a visiting professor of English at the Université Ibn Zohr in Agadir, Morocco.

Beyond his work in Academic Support Programs, Burt has been involved in several committees including Undergraduate Academic Affairs’ general studies curriculum committee and the diversity and inclusion team. He co-chaired the Undergraduate Academic Affairs’ staff teaching committee with Carissa Mayer, which brought together staff from across campus to think critically about undergraduate education.  He is also co-chairing the University’s Task Force on Writing, where he’s helping to reimagine the W (writing) requirement. Burt brings a unique perspective to this work, having been an undergrad and grad student at the UW, in addition to having taught classes as both a grad student and now a staff member. This work seeks to broaden the writing requirement to include diverse fields and writing intensive, upper-level language classes.

Outside of work, Burt, his wife Jennifer and their son Lucien recently welcomed their newest family member, Zinédine. Burt is a musician and drummer for the band Postcard from the Badlands. In addition, he’s an avid coffee drinker. Pre-pandemic, he’d offer you a Chemex pour over when you visited his office. His current favorite coffee is Boon Boona Coffee, which translates to“coffee, coffee, coffee…” in several East African languages — perfect for a coffee enthusiast.