NCCI Member Spotlight – March 2019

  1. Name: Kathryn (Kathy) Burkgren
  2. Institution: Cornell University
  3. Role: AVP Organizational Development and Talent Management
  4. of Years as an NCCI Member: Cornell: 20 years, Kathy 14 years
  5. of Individuals at your institution that are members of NCCI: about 45
  6. Roles, Activities, Committees you have been a part of for NCCI:
  • Brent Ruben Award Recipient, Network for Change & Continuous Innovation, July 2014
  • President Emeritus, Network for Change & Continuous Innovation in Higher Ed (NCCI) (2013-2015)
  • President, Network for Change & Continuous Innovation in Higher Ed (NCCI) (2011-2013)
  • Board Member, National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Ed (NCCI) (2009-2015)
  • Moderator, American Council on Education Conference Panel: Discovery to Produce: Increasing the Number of Products/Companies Resulting from Our Research Enterprises (March 2013)
  • NCCI Presenter for 11 of the past 13 years
  • Member, NCCI Annual Conference Committee (2005-2009)


  1. What have you gained as a result of being a member of NCCI? What has your institution gained?
  • Cornell has gained considerable insights into what is happening at other institutions – initiatives they are engaged in as well as practices, processes, and frameworks being As a result of access through NCCI, we have brought excellent ideas back to Cornell and developed them in a way that work at our institution. Some examples include: Lean process improvement, Kanban boards, use of Liberated Structures methodologies, leadership development, strategic planning, and change management techniques.
  • One of the greatest gifts was learning Lean process improvement, a tool we brought back to Cornell, and have been able to institutionalize. Personally, I have had the opportunity to further develop my leadership, facilitation, and presentation skills as a board member, president, conference presenter, and advisory board member. These roles have given me the opportunity to hear directly from other NCCI members regarding both institutional challenges and solutions they have applied. When I became president, there was not a succession planning model to develop future NCCI leaders. Two memorable accomplishments include the development and implementation of a leadership succession strategy for lead roles throughout NCCI and the decision to continue to invest in NCCI during the recession. My colleagues and I chose to develop a strategic plan that would move NCCI forward as a strong, viable international entity, regardless of the state of the economy. That accomplishment binds us today. Strong board leadership through the years has continued to renew and build upon NCCI’s successes each year. As a result, NCCI is a valuable, one-of-a-kind organization that has established itself as the primary resource for understanding and staying current regarding happenings within institutions of higher education across the globe.


  1. Most memorable aspect of your NCCI connection?
  • By far, the most memorable aspect of my NCCI connection has been the people I have met. All have shared themselves, their ideas, their successes and failures. A few have hosted Cornell at their institutions so that we can learn directly from them. Working side-by-side peers has provided the opportunity to experience challenges and successes through a different lens and enabled us to work collectively to identify practices and processes that will be successful at our institution.


  1. How would you encourage new members to NCCI to get involved?
  • Definitely get involved in committees. Every committee call provides a chance to learn and share ideas across institutions. Through committee work you have the opportunity to build and sharpen your own skillsets as well as bring valuable information and ideas back to your own institutions.