Humans of Scranton: Meet Bob Burke

KATHLEEN HEALEY
Staff Writer

When Bob Burke first came to The University, only 16 administrators ran the school.

“I knew everyone in the institution, both faculty and staff,” says Burke. He was only 26 years old when he attended The University’s evening college and majored in English.

His love of English led him to become involved with the then evening newspaper, The Knight.

During his years as a student, Burke maintained close relationships with people like Paul Montrone and John Gavigan, names students still recognize today.

Upon graduation from his undergraduate career, Burke decided to pursue a masters degree in Counseling.
His work at The University was not confined to academics. The Office of Public Relations hired him at age 31. After working there for two years, he became the director of teacher placement.

His next job was as the director of the personnel office, which now has transformed into the Human Resources department. His final job, where he remained until his retirement in 1996, was as placement director, at the nowCenter for Career Development.

Though now 20 years retired, Burke still heavily involves himself with The University. He comes to work, still dressed in a suit, usually at least twice a week. His duties now, though a lot less demanding than his previous roles and technically categorized as volunteer work, are still just as important.

His primary involvement is with the Pro Deo et Universitate Board. He is responsible for writing biographies for awards and other various works.

Burke’s 20-year volunteer stint began with a coffee and lunch tradition he had with his friend, the late Ray Burd, who previously served as printing and mail director at The University.
When asked why he retired, Burke said his love of nature got the best of him. In his spare time, even at the age of 85, Burke enjoys kayaking and canoeing in local rivers like the Susquehanna.

He bought himself a solo canoe for his 85th birthday. He has even ventured as far as Alaska, Quebec and the Grand Canyon.
His love for outdoors even includes gold prospecting, metal detecting and fishing. He also was an avid runner for 38 years. His first half marathon was not until age 75 and his second was at age 80.
He jokes, “I was the oldest male among 17,000 participants, and won my age group… because I was the only one in it.”
Burke mentioned that his continuous relationship with the school might be the oldest around.
“I was here when Gunster was built and when it was torn down. The same goes for the Old Loyola Science Building,” Burke said.
He even wrote a special issue of The Aquinas in September 1962 for the dedication of St. Thomas Hall. Though The University has changed, Burke says it is still his home.

“Working here has been the ‘brass ring’ of my life. I’ve had a charmed life, and my associates I’ve met here have added so much to my life. This institution has taught true loyalty and dedication,” Burke said.

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