My Winthrop Experience

Name: Barbara Burgess-Wilkerson
Position: Associate professor of management
College: Business Administration
Department: Department of Management and Marketing

Thompson Scholar Barbara Burgess-Wilkerson observed in her business classes that millennial students may be very social on social media but have a tougher time dealing with face-to-face interaction.

Burgess-Wilkerson, an associate professor of management and director of student professional development in the College of Business and Technology, wants to help this generation of students to prepare for their professional lives and to work with people of all ages. She will spend the next few months developing an emotional intelligence project to help millennials identify their areas of strength and weakness.

She has found that millennials are receptive to coaching and don't see advice as a weakness but as a path to greatness. They also look to their professors to guide them and act as mentors who talk with them about their futures.

Meanwhile, employers say that coaching develops the skills of top talent, minimizes conflict, creates loyalty and improves employee engagement. "With a trend toward career advising, universities are better served when faculty and staff are armed with skills to assist students in understanding how emotional intelligence impacts academic and career success," Burgess-Wilkerson said.

She administered a prototype test for students at Winthrop in 2014 called the Wilkerson Emotional Intelligence Test for Academics and Careers (WEITAC). She is working to refine it to create a database to store, manage and analyze data and to generate student summary reports from the revised prototype.

As part of her Thompson Scholar work, she wants to create a comprehensive student report with more specific strategies for development and then train other faculty/staff members on campus.

Her project also may be shared as a template for strategies for student academic and career success for other institutions of higher learning.

Burgess-Wilkerson came to Winthrop in 2006 and has worked on emotional intelligence research since 2009.

She earned a B.S. in social work-psychology from Edinboro University, an M.S. in educational administration from Gannon University, and a Ph.D. in administration and policy studies-social and comparative analysis from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to coming to Winthrop, she was an organizational consultant for 18 years serving the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas.