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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

Professor remembered as passionate, patient role model

The University lost a teacher, a colleague and a friend with the passing of associate professor Julie Burke last week.

Burke, 54, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this semester and died Oct. 31.

Burke, who had been at the University for the past 15 years, was the chair of the department of interpersonal communication for the past four years and previously held the positions of interim director of the School of Communication Studies from 1999 to 2001 and graduate coordinator for the department of IPC and mass communication program from 1995 to 1998.

“She was superbly professional and passionate about fairness,” said Oliver Boyd-Barrett, director of the School of Communication Studies.

Boyd-Barrett met Burke when he became director two and a half years ago and said he has never met anyone so professional and reliable.

Anything she said she would do, she did, and did it on time, Boyd-Barrett said.

Right before her passing, Burke was presented with the Faculty Distinguished Service Award at a ceremony that took place in her home on Oct. 22.

Her nomination involved tributes from Boyd-Barrett, chairs of the departments of the School of Communication Studies, school staff, instructors, graduate and undergraduate students, and alumni of the school.

Thomas Mascaro, associate professor in the department of telecommunications, remembers meeting with Burke to talk about serious technology equipment problems in West Hall when he first started at the University in 1998.

Mascaro said Burke was patient and not judgmental in any way, as well as a lover of the University life and teaching.

“She was a person you wanted to be around,” he said.

Mascaro said Burke was an outstanding colleague until the end, and that she had a big stature of character for somebody so small.

“She was very good with students,” said Linda Glomski, administrative assistant in the School of Communication Studies.

Burke’s office in West Hall was close to Glomski’s, and Glomski said Burke could always be counted on to calm down distressed IPC students and faculty.

She was professional on both sides of the issue and explained issues to both faculty and students when conflicts arose.

Glomski would call Burke an “administrative genius” because she knew the faculty charter and University documents so well that she could quote them chapter and verse.

According to Glomski, Burke and her husband, Joel, enjoyed the outdoors, kayaking and traveling out West. Burke also enjoyed jogging five to seven days a week.

“We teased her about how she ate plain yogurt that wasn’t chilled,” Glomski said.

Burke was such a healthy person that Glomski said she couldn’t believe she was sick.

This spring, Burke intended to step down from her chair position, but her replacement did not work out, so she stayed on until the fall.

Boyd-Barrett said Burke enjoyed doing research on health communications, as she was a member of the health communications research clusters on campus.

She did have to sacrifice some research time while chairing the department because she couldn’t do it all, Boyd-Barrett said.

“She was a role model,” he said.

Burke got her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and became an associate professor at the University of Oregon before coming to the University.

She resided in Waterville with her husband until her passing.

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