Graduate College Announces Promotion of Valarie Burke, Kara Wada

Apr. 23, 2020


The Graduate College is pleased to announce the promotion of Dr. Valarie Burke and Kara Wada. Dr. Burke is now the Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Services, and Wada is now the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Enrollment Management. 

These promotions, which took effect earlier this semester, come after a combined 32 years of service at UNLV and 19 years of employment at the Graduate College. 

“These promotions are in recognition of both Valarie and Kara’s accomplishments and ongoing and escalating contributions to our commitment to Top Tier graduate education,” said Kate Korgan, Dean of the Graduate College. “Anyone who has worked with either of them will recognize their many talents and skills and understand how important their leadership is to graduate education at UNLV.”  

Most recently, Dr. Burke served as the Executive Director of Graduate Student Services for the Graduate College, which she joined in 2014. During her time with the Graduate College, she has created and managed the Leadership & Professional Development Academy, planned and executed more than 15 annual events, organized and collaborated with faculty and campus partners on more than 60 workshops annually, created and managed the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, and more. She also assisted in securing the National Science Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Understanding Ph.D. Career Pathways for Program Improvement grant as well as the Phi Kappa Phi Project Transforming Tomorrow grant. Dr. Burke is a member of several professional organizations, including the Council of Graduate Schools, the Western Association of Graduate Schools, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She also serves on several university committees, including the Top Tier Postdoctoral Scholar Committee, Top Tier Program Innovations Committee, and Student Veteran & Military Family Service Committee. She has presented at NAGAP, Association of Graduate Enrollment Management, and Graduate Career Consortium conferences, to name a few. Dr. Burke began working at UNLV in 2005 as a Senior Academic Advisor with the Wilson Advising Center before moving into the position of Student Academic Integration Coordinator. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, and a B.A. in Psychology, all from UNLV. 

“I am so thrilled to be a part of the UNLV family and help advance its Top Tier mission by providing Grad Rebels with innovative, research-based opportunities and support services that will elevate their student experience and provide them with a competitive edge post-graduation,” said Dr. Burke.

Wada has worked in higher education for more than 15 years and graduate enrollment management with the Graduate College since 2007. Wada most recently served as the Executive Director of Admissions & Enrollment Management in the Graduate College, where she oversaw recruitment and admissions; retention, progression, and completion (RPC); and the Graduate College Welcome Center. During her time in the Graduate College, Wada has co-lead the implementation of two online application systems and has significantly improved processing times for graduate admissions evaluations and decisions through streamlined workflows and improved business processes. She has presented at several conferences around the nation, including the Western Association of Graduate Schools Annual Meeting, the Enrollment Rx User Conference, and the NAGAP Annual Conference. She is a true Rebel at heart, having completed a bachelor of business administration in marketing, a bachelor of business administration in management, and a master of business administration at UNLV. She is highly committed to the University, serving on numerous campus committees, including currently co-chairing the Top Tier GEM/R2PC Committee. She is also a proud member of Phi Kappa Phi, Chapter 100 and of the UNLV Women’s Council, having previously served on the Steering Committee and as a past chair of the Programming & Networking Taskforce for three years. 

“I am so honored and beyond grateful to be able to continue to serve the University in this new capacity,” said Wada. “I am incredibly fortunate to have such hard-working, dynamic, and supportive colleagues in the Graduate College and am excited to continue our work advancing graduate education at UNLV. Go Grad Rebels!”