By Branden LaCroix
FSU held a forum for Kirill Bumin, a finalist for the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education position, March 27.
Bumin is currently the dean of graduate studies at Stonehill College. Before that, he was assistant dean of the Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP).
Bumin earned bachelor’s degrees in business administration and political science at High Point University in North Carolina, and earned a master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Kentucky.
He was also a professor of political science and public administration at UNCP, and is a professor of political science and international studies at Stonehill College.
Bumin said when he started as an assistant dean at UNCP, the graduate program had approximately 750 students. “We grew to 2,050 students,” he said, “so it was about a 270% growth in enrollments.”
He said UNCP is “the most diverse institution in the University of North Carolina [system]. It is one of the most diverse in the South.
“I deliberately sought out my career in places like this. I wanted to be surrounded by first-generation, by military, non-traditional students, [and] minority students,” he said.
Bumin explained he is a first-generation immigrant who immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1994.
Bumin added, “For 12 years, I worked with that population of students - I'm deeply familiar with the needs of students from such backgrounds, both as a faculty member and administrator.
“That's one of the reasons why I'm here today, because it's very exciting to be able to contribute to the intellectual growth and career growth for students” of that background, he said.
Bumin said he has experience with event planning, including Model UN conferences, which are simulated United Nations assemblies for students, as well as budget planning, marketing, and research, and said he is “very comfortable with a variety of strategic planning processes.”
Bumin explained one of the current challenges is declining enrollment for graduate studies. He said there has been a 10% decrease in enrollment since 2012, but added there has been a 4% increase since 2019, “but that picture is also not very clear.”
He added gender disparities in graduate studies is also a challenge. As an example, he said at UNCP, 71% of graduate students were women.
Bumin said if selected for the position, he will focus on developing new programs, as well as expanding existing programs, “making them more competitive in the marketplace.”
He added he will also focus on graduation and retention rates for the graduate and continuing education programs, with a focus on cohort analysis “to really understand how the graduate programs are doing.”
Another focus will be to incorporate more hands-on activities into the graduate programs.
He said he has experience in the “extracurricular side” of education, including study-abroad programs and advising multiple student organizations.
“Students typically don't remember what I told them at my 9:00 o’clock Intro to Political Science class,” he said. “But they will remember tracking through the Thai jungle on an elephant, or sitting in Berlin at a briefing conducted by a German official or by a US embassy official.
“These kinds of experiences transform students - they give them excitement. They give them a stake in their education,” he said.
Another focus of Bumin’s will be to support relationships with local communities. He said, “I would argue one of the principal missions of a regional state institution is to draw these very direct and explicit connections with local communities.”
He said he is also interested in expanding counseling and psychological services for graduate students, as most of those services are developed with only undergraduate students in mind.
“It's really important to work with those offices to realign them in such a way that they understand the unique and the specific needs of that target audience and that they're there when they're needed,” he said.