Faculty Leadership

American Sentinel University’s faculty members are subject-matter experts who deliver a quality academic experience.

Dr. Judy Burckhardt
Dean, Nursing and Healthcare Programs

Dr. Judy Burckhardt is the dean of nursing and healthcare programs at American Sentinel University. Previously, she was the dean of nursing and health programs at Kaplan Higher Education Campuses and before that, the vice president of Kaplan’s School of Nursing. Dr. Burckhardt has many years of experience as an educator and administrator in diploma, ADN and BSN programs. She led the nursing division at Kaplan Test Preparation and spearheaded the development and growth of the company’s nursing programs. Dr. Burckhardt delivers test preparation seminars to students, item-writing workshops to nursing faculty and career development seminars to students, nurses and health care professionals in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Burckhardt is the co-author of a top-selling book of strategies for preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam and has published numerous articles for nursing publications. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and, the National League for Nursing and is a Program Evaluator for the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing. She is a past member of several national professional associations, including, the American Nurses Association and the National Organization of Associate Degree Nursing.

Dr. Burckhardt holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Nebraska, a Master of Arts in education with an adult education emphasis from Washington University, an MSN with a nursing education emphasis from Kaplan University and a BSN from Loyola University.

Dr. Elaine Foster
Associate Dean and Professor, DNP and Healthcare Programs

Dr. Elaine Foster is the associate dean of graduate nursing programs at American Sentinel University. Previously, she was the Associate Dean for the School of Nursing at Kaplan University, overseeing the nursing program and its faculty and operations, launching new programs and managing all accreditation issues. For 27 years, Dr. Foster held various leadership roles at Southwestern Michigan College, including Dean of the School of Nursing and Human Services and Dean of academic studies. She has presented at numerous state and national conferences. In 2007, she served on a nursing legislative task force for the state of Michigan to develop a plan to reduce the shortage of nurses in the state.

Dr. Foster is a member of the National League of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau International. She is a Program Evaluator for Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. She is a past member of several state and national professional associations, including the Michigan Liberal Arts Deans organization, the National Organization of Associate Degree Nursing, the Northern Indiana Organization of Nurse Executives and the Michigan Council of Nursing Education Administrators (for which she served as president). Dr. Foster also serves on the board of trustees for the Cass County Council on Aging.

Dr. Foster holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership and administration from Andrews University, a Master of Science Nursing from Andrews University and a Bachelor of Science Nursing from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Karen Whitham
Associate Dean, RN-BSN, MSN, and General Education Programs

Dr. Karen Whitham is the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Nursing Programs at American Sentinel University. Previously, she was a member of the nursing faculty at Rasmussen College. Dr. Whitham has held various roles at Kaplan University, including Director of Pre-licensure Initiatives, practical nursing professor, clinical coordinator and adjunct online nursing professor. She worked as a staff nurse on a medical/surgical/telemetry unit at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, where she also was a clinical instructor in the College of Health Sciences.

Dr. Whitham is a Certified Nurse Educator and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the National League for Nursing and the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning. She is also a Program Evaluator for the Commission for Nursing Education Accreditton.

Dr. Whitham holds a Doctor of Education (EdD) in healthcare education from the College of Saint Mary, an M.S. in higher education, teaching and learning, from Kaplan University, an MSN (leadership in healthcare systems emphasis) from Regis University, a BSN from the University of Iowa and an A.S. in nursing from Mercy College of Health Sciences.