Raymonda “Ray” Burgman, Ph.D.

Vice President, Programs and Services at WICHE
HERS Institute Alumna, Class of Weekend 2006

HERS Alum and the previous Director of Programs and Research at HERS, Ray Burgman, started a new position as the Vice President, Programs and Services, at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) on October 1, 2021. WI

Prior to her role at WICHE Ray Burgman joined HERS as the Director of HERS Leadership Institute (HLI) in June 2013 and became the Director of Programs and Research in 2017 as the organization and portfolio of program offerings grew beyond the HLI. Ray was responsible for program service development and delivery, HLI admissions, and research and assessment.

What brought you to the HERS Leadership Institute (HLI)? What was your role or title when you attended and did anyone encourage or support your attendance?

Serendipity brought me to HERS. I learned about HERS during a women’s leadership breakfast when attending my first ACE Annual meeting. At that time, I was an assistant professor of economics and management at DePauw University. There have been many people who supported me throughout my career. The two people most directly responsible for my attendance at the HLI were Dr. Robert Bottoms, who was President, and Dr. Neal Abraham, who was the Executive Vice President and Vice President of Academic Affairs. They supported my candidacy financially and as mentors. They perceived an interest in leadership well before I even knew what I wanted to do. Before I completed the HLI, I was tapped for an assistant dean role in Academic Affairs, where I would coordinate pre-and post-doctoral fellowship programs. Preparing Future Faculty and the Consortium for Faculty Diversity were in my portfolio. I am so thankful to Dr. Bottom and Dr. Abraham for their support those many years ago.

Why did you choose to apply and take the role at HERS directing the HLI?

I resigned from my tenure at DePauw University and my role as Associate Provost at New College, my undergraduate alma mater on the same day. Why? Impact, impact, impact! I saw the possibility of working with leaders who would ultimately impact student outcomes as they created leadership projects which spoke specifically to their institution’s mission. Let me also acknowledge that I was not partnered at the time. I had flexibility in my life choices. My move to Denver and travel schedule affected only me directly. This may not be the case for many women leaders who are rooted in one location or geographic region.

What do you value most from your HLI Experience and your time as a staff member?

I most value the connections I made as a participant and as a staff member. People matter and their stories can transform. I love hearing how someone navigated a leadership challenge and turned it into an opportunity. I love solving problems that seemed intractable. These are the types of conversations we had as participants and when I was a staff member.

What from your experience at HERS, as an alum or staff member, do you plan on immediately bringing into your next role?

I plan to bring the importance of mission with me. Non-profit organizations live by their mission. It’s important to have a passion for the organization’s work and to infuse that into everything you do. Interstate Passport® is one of the many programs within Programs and Services at WICHE. At its core, it is all that WICHE is. Interstate Passport® embodies both student access and institutional collaboration and resource sharing. While serving as Associate Provost at New College, I worked with a student affairs colleague on transfer student programming. It was important for us to say to students that they arrived at the right place, New College, at the right time, whenever they were becoming Novo Collegians. Circling back to the mission, it gives you direction in your selection. There are so many opportunities, and your mission helps you narrow the field.

How did HERS impact your leadership trajectory?

As an economist, I taught possibility. At HERS, I learned about ways I could impact the trajectory of others. Before HERS, I understood what it meant to climb the faculty ranks. Through HERS, I learned how I could use my knowledge, skills, and abilities to collaborate and connect with people.

How relevant and important have the insights gained from the HLI continued to be for your leadership development?

What I learned was tremendously important because I learned how to grow communities. I also became more thoughtful about my use of resources.

How is the HERS experience different than other leadership development organizations (or activities) you’ve participated in?

HERS is experiential and people-centric. HERS is about people who recognize that they can reduce or eliminate systemic and structural barriers to change. You also learn that you are not alone in so many ways. You gain a support network, and you begin to view your institution through a different lens. There are aspects of postsecondary life where one may believe you operate in isolation. At HERS, through the pre-work and reflective exercises, you open yourself to the notion that campuses are comprised of individuals connected to a larger community that requires everyone to be present—mind,  body, and spirit. We can only strive for our ideal state when we bring our best. That is only possible if everyone shows up!

What advice would you give to women wanting to advance their higher education career but uncertain as to when and how to do it?

Pay attention to the colors in your dream! Have you ever thought about whether you dream in color? Most people today dream in color while reportedly less than 20% of people only dream in grayscale or black and white. Often, we do not think about the colors in our dreams. This seems so abstract and will have a different meaning for the multitude of women leaders currently in the HERS network and those who will join soon. For me, it means to pay attention to how my words and speech impact others, the needs of the people around me, and to what my body tells me that I need to thrive.

How would you describe your cohort?

Exquisitely skilled!

Has the HERS Network continued to be valuable in your professional or personal life? If so, please share how you have (or plan to) remain connected.

Yes, I never say no if a HERS Network member asks me to do something. I may need to rearrange some things or suggest someone else to get to yes. However, the answer is always yes! Professionally and personally, I am inspired by the women-identified leaders I have met and intereacted with as an alum and as a HERS staff member.

How did your time at HERS, as an alum or staff member, impact your ability to lead during a crisis?

I am a naturally calm person. So, I project calm to keep those around me calm. It is hard to develop good strategies if you are panicking. I also know how important planning for a crisis is. If you make good decisions before a crisis, you will have a buffer.

 As HERS approaches the organization’s 50th anniversary, in 2022, some learning themes are Celebrate Us, Bold Leadership, and Inclusive Transformation. In consideration of these themes, what message or challenge do you have to share with fellow HERS alums and friends as we step into this next chapter of HERS history and the future of higher education?

HERS is a non-profit organization approaching its 50th anniversary. It needs our talent, time, and treasure. I want to challenge everyone to boldly consider what HERS will look like if each one of us considered what we can give in talent, time, or treasure. When I worked at HERS, I donated to the HLI gift committees as they raised funds for HERS. This was not new to me; I donated money to every institution and organization where I worked because I believed in its mission. I understand everyone can’t give money and ask that they can give in talent and time. There are many woman-identified leaders to come. I am supporting HERS for them!