By Johnny Jackson
Wendy Burns-Ardolino is soaring on the wings of her endeavors.
The Clayton State University professor is taking her career to new heights. Burns-Ardolino was recently appointed to be the director of the university's Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS), which became the university's first graduate program in 2006.
"We're doing two things simultaneously," said Burns-Ardolino, who is also an assistant professor and former director of the university's integrative studies program. "First, [we're] showing what liberal arts can do, and then tending to the students' needs in areas of specialization they would choose," she said.
"It's both an interdisciplinary program and a program that provides 18 hours of concentration ... that's what makes it so valuable."
Burns-Ardolino succeeded the former director, Thomas Barnett, on July 1. Barnett remains department head of Communicative Arts and Integrative Studies.
Burns-Ardolin is an expert on popular culture, and the author of "Jiggle: (Re)Shaping American Women," released by Lexington Books in December 2007.
In the book, she discusses traditional foundation garments of the 1930s and analyzes contemporary shape-wear in terms of shaping women physically, culturally, and socially.
This fall, Burns-Ardolino will make appearances in Atlanta and Montreal in conjunction with her book.
Meanwhile, she will be directing the liberal arts graduate program, which involves two main areas of interests, including history and English. Although, she said, there are plans to diversify the program "as we go forward."
She said psychology, sociology, and communications are three logical directions in which the program could expand. "Doing something interdisciplinary like cultural studies or global studies, that could also potentially happen," Burns-Ardolino said. "We're sitting exactly where we want to be in terms of the breadth of scope for the program. Our next step is to look at the student demographics."
The MALS program is made up of several students who work as teachers in Clayton, Henry, Fayette, and Fulton counties, and who need to continue their education and their professional development.
"Choosing a masters program like ours is really in keeping with their goals as educators," Burns-Ardolino said. "It will allow them to keep up their professional credentials and continue their education at the same time. Those are the folks that I see us reaching out to."
Anna Cox, who will become the university's first masters graduate this fall, is a teacher at Clayton County's Jonesboro High School. Barbara James is the winner of the first Clayton State Retirees Association scholarship, and is a teacher at Fayette County's Rising Starr Middle School.
"We're building a graduate faculty that are the best teachers, the best researchers, and the best scholars," Burns-Ardolino said. "The students who come here to take our graduate programs will benefit from the faculty and their expertise. It's a real honor for our faculty and a reason to come here."
The university also has three other graduate programs, including the Master of Business Administration, the Master of Health Administration, and the Master of Science in Nursing.
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