Profile: Colleen Heffernan

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Colleen Heffernan has worked in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies for more than five years. She started as the program coordinator and is currently program manager. In this role, she supports both the Honors Program and the dean of the Institute.

There are approximately 200 students enrolled in the Honors Program each year. Heffernan fields queries from students about program requirements as well as thesis requirements. Every Honors student must complete a thesis during their senior year. She also works with the program director on a variety of initiatives, including organizing Honors lectures each semester, overseeing the probationary process for students, and coordinating the application and submission process for students to attend the National Collegiate Honors Council’s annual conference.

For the Institute, she manages all curriculum changes, which go through a curriculum committee. Changes include updates to course descriptions and titles and the addition of new courses. She also works with faculty in the Schools of the Arts and Communication who teach classes that count toward the Institute’s interdisciplinary minors and the College’s general education requirements.

Heffernan also schedules the Institute’s interdisciplinary courses, in collaboration with the faculty member who schedules the other liberal arts courses and Academic Affairs, including the First-Year Seminar. Every first-year student is required to take this class, so there are approximately 20 sections of the course each semester.

She oversees the Individually Designed Interdisciplinary Program, a program in which students can design their own major. She accepts the applications, serves as a point of contact for the students, and runs a mentorship program for students new to the major. Five to seven students are accepted into the program each semester. She also ensures that students who are taking courses that satisfy the interdisciplinary minors are aware of the requirements as well as the other courses within each program.

Marketing, communication, and development of the Institute’s programs also fall under her responsibilities. She sends out communication on course offerings to faculty and students and works with Creative Services to produce posters and brochures.

Heffernan cites her colleagues as the main reason why she enjoys working at Emerson. “I enjoy the community as a whole, but I really like working in the Institute because the faculty have such diverse backgrounds,” she said. She also likes having the opportunity to create new connections with faculty in other academic departments every year.

She grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and attended UMass Lowell. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in English, thinking that she would start a career as an English teacher. After her student teaching stint, however, she realized that classroom teaching was not for her. While working at some nonprofits that focused on public research and policy, she happened upon Northeastern’s master’s program in higher education administration. She graduated from that program and also completed a graduate certificate program in public policy. Before arriving at Emerson, she worked at Lesley University for two years.

Heffernan and her partner, Shawn, live in Whitman, Massachusetts, with their two children, Ruby and Miles. She enjoys going on hikes with her family and spending time outdoors at a family beach house in New Hampshire. And she and her family are excited to welcome a new addition this week!

Nancy Howell (Creative Services)