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Sr. Joanne Burrows to Retire May 2019

By Clarke News  |  July 30, 2018

Sister Joanne Burrows, president of Clarke University since July 2006, will retire from Clarke effective May 31, 2019. Burrows made the announcement to the university community earlier today.

“This year marks my 40th anniversary ministering in higher education, working first in admissions, adult education, and student life. I then served in the academic realm as a faculty member, department chair, and provost before becoming Clarke’s president, a role I have held proudly for 12 years,” Burrows said. “The road I chose has had many rewards but it also has meant sacrificing other opportunities, ministries, and relationships. For the past few years, I have felt called to re-examine my focus and look at how I approach my last decade or so in ministry. ”

Rob Wahlert, chair of the Clarke University Board of Trustees, said that Burrows will be missed. “Sister Joanne has made a significant impact on Clarke and we are grateful for her leadership and her unwavering commitment to prepare traditional, graduate, and continuing learners for careers and lives well-lived.”

Wahlert cited numerous accomplishments during Burrows’ era:

  • Moving from college to university status, reflecting Clarke’s commitment to serve learners of all ages and phases of their lives.
  • Expanding Clarke’s array of graduate and undergraduate programs to reflect the needs of today’s learners and needs of the market.
  • Enhancing facilities to inspire learning and expanding opportunities to compete and grow within and beyond the classroom.
  • Caring for the whole student.
  • Developing partnerships and engaging alumni and friends to support Clarke students and the Clarke University mission.

“In the coming year, we will continue to work with Sister Joanne to move Clarke forward while we conduct a national search for our 16th president,” Wahlert said.

A committee comprised of trustees, faculty, and an executive administrator will be appointed to select Burrows’ successor, with assistance from an executive search firm.

The transition of leadership comes as Clarke marks its 175th year of service. In 1843, Mary Frances Clarke and a group of Irish religious women, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), arrived on the Iowa prairie to establish St. Mary’s Academy for girls. Today, Clarke serves 1,100 learners from 29 states and five countries and is recognized nationally for its value and quality of education.

“Through it all, we have lived by Mary Frances Clarke’s call to be progressive with the times in what and how we teach and faithfully embrace the BVM values of freedom, education, charity, and justice,” Burrows said. “My time at Clarke has been graced. Admittedly there have been times of challenge but far more times of celebration and satisfaction. This caring learning community of students, staff, and faculty is so special. I have always been immensely proud to serve as president of Clarke University. I leave trusting God has plans for me and with a tear in my eye and lump in my throat for the separation that is to come.”