The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Kim Burke departs after 14 years of service

Not many people can say they had the impact on Guilford College that Kim Burke had. Fourteen years ago, she arrived on campus. Back then, there was not a single door opener on campus.  Now, Guilford is known as an accommodating place, with a large population of students with some type of disability.

“We needed someone to help us with students with disabilities,” said Sue Keith, former director of what is now the Learning Commons, in a phone interview. “I interviewed a lot of people; Kim was the one that could lead us best.  She is bright, creative, experienced with both people and the programs.

Keith continued, “She provided leadership where it was badly needed.”

One way Kim showed leadership in addition to her duties was by imparting wisdom to her colleagues.

“I didn’t have much of a background in disability resources, although I did a lot of work in the area,” said Georgie Bogdan, associate coordinator of disability resources. “We are colleagues and soul mates. We have a lot of common ground, although we come from different backgrounds.”

Melissa Daniel Frink, director of the Learning Commons, echoes Bogdan’s sentiment.

“I would characterize our friendship as a great gift,” said Frink.”I have learned so many things, including how to be a professional in a new way. Kim taught me that it was okay to care about the people in your job. “

Frink continued, “Kim is scarily competent, very efficient, and very effective. She always did more than her job description.”

Doug Smith, a professional tutor and co-worker, added his thoughts in an emailed statement.

“I have known Kim for more than a decade, both as a colleague and as a friend,” said Smith. “She was, first of all, a wonderful advocate for disability resources at Guilford College. When Kim first arrived at Guilford, disability resources essentially did not exist.”

Smith continued, “Kim changed all that. Passionate and engaged, Kim cared about her work, and she taught students and faculty alike to respect that learning could happen in many ways. There is so much more I could say about Kim.”

Smith went on to say, “I could talk about her kindness, for example. I could discuss her amazing energy. Let me simply say this: I will miss her.”

Burke’s efforts to change campus did not end with the Learning Commons.

“Since I first met Kim she has consistently helped me to see how I could make my little part of the Guilford world more accommodating to the most students in ways I never even considered,” said Kim Yarbray, project and communication manager for the Center for Principled Problem Solving. “She seems always to be thinking about universal access and how we can better engage the different gifts we each have for a more robust learning experience.”

The fact that Kim cared deeply about the students, as well as their learning experience, is evident in conversations with them.

“We have a close relationship that spans over five years,” said Reggie Enoex-Pettiford ‘13”.

 “Her wisdom and support was the best thing she brought to the table for Guilford. Kim helped me realize that I did not need her help, and that everything I wanted to accomplish I could on my own.”

Echoing Enoex-Pettiford, Michael Delson, another former student of Burke’s, said, “Kim was extremely dedicated to her students, by doing anything and everything for them to succeed, inside and outside of the classroom,” said Delson. “She was great at helping people advocate for themselves. Kim is a strong lady that will fight for anything and will get anything done. She won’t quit fighting. No is not acceptable. “

Tonda Osteen’s story illustrates Enoex-Pettiford’s  and Delson’s points.

“One year before Guilford I was living in a shelter, homeless and pregnant,” Osteen, a former student said. “Now I am able to give back to my community and advocate for others.”

When asked to describe Burke’s contributions to Guilford, Osteen said, “Kim is a great example of what the founders of the New Garden Boarding School, now Guilford College, envisioned 176 years ago. That is to promote education, passion for others, Quaker values, and the inner Light that is in everyone.”

Kelly Marie Hale ‘09, former student, also saw Burke’s passion as coming from God.

“She has a consistency and a passion for what she does,” Hale said.  “She answered a call that only comes from Above. God instilled talents in her that very few people could ever dream of.”

Hale continued, “I am certain you can see Kim’s most impressive contributions in the faces and hearts of EVERY Guilford student, past and present, going forward to conquer mountains and changing lives.”

Burke’s passion for helping others developed long before she came to Guilford.

“I have always connected with the underdog and I have a great sense of social justice,” said Burke. “I started working at a camp for kids with disabilities when I was fifteen and stayed there for fifteen years.”

Burke’s attitude affected even her childhood friends.

When asked if there was anything special he would like to say to Burke, Chip Rosenthal, a childhood friend, said by email,

“Kim, you are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. Your love, kindness, and ability to see what a person needs is a gift … to you, but more to those in your life. I am so thankful to call you friend. God Bless you in everything you do.”

Another longtime friend, Wendy Looker, associate professor of music and director of choral activities, shares a deep connection with Burke from their college days.

“Although we were undergraduates at different times, we both sang in the chamber choir at SUNY Geneseo under a conductor with whom we each had a deep connection,” Looker said. “Kim joined the Guilford College Choir last fall when I invited faculty and staff to join us. It’s tradition for the choir officers to hand out ‘paper plate awards’ at the end of each semester, and last year the choir gave her the ‘mother hen’ award.”

All those interviewed make the point that Burke went above and beyond the call of duty routinely during her time at Guilford.

Frink illustrated this with an example:

“The other night, she (Burke) was working with pneumonia. She was two weeks into it before she made time to go to the walk-in clinic. There was a first year student there who did not have a ride, so she, at 8 o’clock at night, took the student to get her medicine before she drove herself home that night.”

Frink continued, “That is the sort of thing she did all the time.”

Julie Yindra, director of disability services at Hofstra University, New York, and a mentor of Burke’s, shared a perspective on Burke’s growth.

   “Although she has always been and continues to be the consummate advocate for that which she believes to be right,” said Yindra by email, “over time, I think she’s become more and more effective at deliberating all angles of a situation, carefully considering her options before acting. Then she goes with her instinct, dives in heart and soul, and does the thing she knew was right to begin with. It is one of the things we love about her. “

Bogdan spoke for many when she said,

“Thank you for your patience and guidance, and for leaving the department in the best shape possible.”

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • M

    Melanie PringleSep 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Kim, you will be missed! You were such a meaningful presence at Guilford. I’m so glad I got to see you in Choir last fall. You mean so much to so many people. I know you would not be leaving if it were not the absolute right thing to do. All the best to you and your son!

  • T

    Tracy CrosbySep 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    About my dearest friend, Kim Burke … so happy to see her contributions acknowledged and not belittled. She has given with the purest of intentions to so many. She has provided family, structure and support to those who needed it and an encouraging, loving shove to those who needed to do more for themselves. Throughout all of her lifetime of giving she has endured profound personal struggles, health concerns, loss but has remained true to her core values. Throughout our 40 years of friendship she has remained my true north. My sister.