Faculty. Scholar. Woodworker. Home brewer. Bourbon enthusiast. Brian enjoys doing lots of things. Through his teaching, speaking, and consulting, Brian loves to make connections with others by drawing on his varied interests. All the while, he draws people back to connecting the topic at hand to current and emerging issues and research.
Brian Bourke, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the postsecondary education master’s and P-20 leadership doctoral programs at Murray State University, where he teaches research methods and assessment courses. He also teaches courses on student characteristics and development, along with courses on organization and administration of higher education.
Prior to joining the professoriate in 2007, Brian worked in residence life for several years. It was during this time that he started working with assessment, leading efforts in his department and providing support to other student affairs departments. In the assessment realm, Brian is interested in the connections between assessment and social justice and advocating for increased uses of qualitative approaches to assessment practice.
Through his scholarly pursuits, Brian has largely engaged in work aimed at better understanding the experiences of students of color in predominantly White colleges and universities. He has recently shifted and expanded that focus to include institutional practices in ways to help student affairs staff better understand deep-seated influences of whiteness in PWIs.
Brian’s love of speaking
In Fall of 2014, Brian received an out of the blue phone call – it was an invitation to speak at the 2015 National Convention for the National Association for Campus Activities. He was invited because of the way he engages with others in the field: asking questions without easy answers, and pushing student affairs educators to think beyond where they are now. This continued engagement has led to invitations to speak at other conferences and at institutions.
The topics he addresses through speaking appearances generally fall into two categories: social justice and assessment. Social justice topics range from thinking differently about how we categorize students (which affects how we think about and serve them) to thinking critically about what it means to be an ally. His assessment topics cover his own experience with assessment in student affairs, as well as approaches to teaching assessment in graduate preparation programs.
Brian would relish the opportunity to speak at your campus or event. To learn how to make that happen, please visit the booking information found on this page.
While sitting with his fellow graduates at their master’s program hooding ceremony at the University of South Carolina, Brian had an epiphany: his best means of having an impact on the field of student affairs would to become a faculty member. As he tuned out the wonderful speaker, he devised a plan that would include working professionally for some time prior to attempting to make the jump to faculty life. That plan came to fruition over the next few years as he worked in residence life and began taking classes as a doctoral student at the University of Alabama. During his doctoral studies, Brian engaged more deeply with scholarship around diversity and social justice. During class discussions and after-class conversations, Brian was often reminded of his privilege as a White, heterosexual, cis-gender man who faces no oppression from identifying and practicing as a Catholic Christian. If you’re wondering, Brian does address the influence of these identities in his writing and speaking, which pop up in blog posts and podcast episodes.
Upon completing coursework, Brian took the advice from program faculty to become a graduate research assistant. In that year, he completed his dissertation and began the process of transitioning to faculty life. After graduating with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education in 2007, Brian joined the faculty at Alabama for a year, and then transitioned to LSU in 2008. During his six years at LSU, Brian met his wife, Ashley, and they married in 2011, and had their daughter, Kenzie, in 2012.
LSU is a fine institution, but something about him and/or hiswork didn’t measure up, and he was denied tenure. So, in 2014 he embarked on a job search and accepted an offer to help launch a new master’s program at Murray State University. Since joining Murray State in 2014, Brian has been able to engage in work that reflects his commitment to exceptional teaching that is informed by engaged scholarship and service. Moving to Murray has helped Brian find more balance in life by allowing more time for woodworking, home brewing and building things with Legos with Kenzie.