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Jobs Well Done, and Well Appreciated

Perkins Award winners honored tonight

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Perkins recipients: Julia Burstein (MET’10) (from left), manager of information systems and services at Metropolitan College, Jake Kassen (COM’04), senior media technician at the College of Communication, and Joline Durant (CAS’04), manager of faculty resources and support services at the School of Public Health. Photos by Vernon Doucette

Bill McMullen was ready, if need be, to break a tie. Then the head of the selection committee for the 2010 John S. Perkins Distinguished Service Awards found out that particular task would not be required: this year’s winners were chosen unanimously.

“We chose people who are very important to the programs they are a part of,” says McMullen, a clinical assistant professor at the School of Education. “They not only help their departments, they make them thrive.”

The trio of winners, Julia Burstein (MET’10), manager of information systems and services at Metropolitan College, Joline Durant (CAS’04), manager of faculty resources and support services at the School of Public Health, and Jake Kassen (COM’04), senior media technician at the College of Communication, will be honored with a plaque and $500 at a ceremony at 5 p.m. today, May 4, at the Castle.

As the IT manager at MET, which runs more than 300 course sections each semester, Burstein oversees the delivery of IT services to five locations (three on campus, one in Tyngsboro, one at Sargent Camp), support for six PC labs, 30 servers, and the backup/restore system, as well as consulting services for BU Brussels.

“When I learned network administration, a few teachers told us that this is a service,” says Burstein, who will attend the ceremony with her mother, her husband, and her son. “And I try to serve people, especially since IT is everywhere — everything is computer-related.”

Burstein says she tries to answer every question that comes to her inbox as soon as she receives it. More than 150 full-time employees depend on her for IT help. “I just try to put myself in their shoes,” she says. “I want them to look at new software and think that this is something they can definitely do.”

Joline Durant started part-time at SPH in 1983, and later, while putting herself through school, became full-time. As administrator of the faculty appointments and promotions committee, she keeps track of the complex faculty files and works with faculty members so they understand the promotion process. Durant also works with the department chairs and committee members so the process runs smoothly.

“I love this job, and I think it’s because of the people I work with,” she says. “And because I’ve been here so long, people always want to know where to find this or that. No matter how busy I am, I think, you’re never too busy to help someone out.”

As she heads in to work every day, Durant keeps in mind skills taught her by former Perkins recipient Dzidra Knecht, a retired SPH associate dean, as well as lessons she learned from her father.

“My dad would wake up every day, go to work, and even when he didn’t have the time, he’d help someone,” says Durant, whose husband and one of her daughters will be at the ceremony. “And I think he instilled that in me.”

The letters about Jake Kassen don’t mince words about his value to COM students — faculty agree that he is “absolutely indispensable.” It was Kassen, for example, who helped a graduate student recover a video-editing project she had labored on for weeks when it vanished. Working overtime, he tackled the problem and was able to reconstruct the project from data that had been left on several computers the student had worked on.

“One thing I try to do is work for the students,” says Kassen, who is also credited with being a link for students landing their first jobs. “We’re here so that they can get their work done, learn, and have a valuable experience.”

All three Perkins recipients are used to working in the background and say they do not relish having the spotlight turned on them for the day, but that recognition for a job well done is gratifying.

“To receive this award, after all these years, is very heartwarming,” says Durant. “You put so much in and don’t expect anything in return, and it’s nice to know people are noticing your work and that you’re appreciated.”

The Perkins Awards, funded by an endowment from the late John S. Perkins, a former University faculty member, administrator, trustee, and treasurer, are presented by the Faculty Council. Only members of the faculty can make nominations, which are open to all associated with Boston University, except faculty, and must be accompanied by three letters of support. Members of the council’s Research Activities, Libraries, and Support Services Committee then read each letter and recommend four to six nominees. Members of the Faculty Council make the final decision, and letters are carried forward from year to year so nominees can be reconsidered.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @kcornuel.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Jobs Well Done, and Well Appreciated

  • COMsenior on 05.04.2010 at 8:51 am

    Jake!

    Hurray for Jake! In my four years at BU, he’s helped me out countless times, at all hours of the day and he seems to know absolutely everything about COM tech! glad to see he’s getting appreciated.

  • Anonymous on 05.06.2010 at 10:01 am

    Jake

    Well done, BU. Good to see such a helpful guy get recognized. I’ve gone to Jake countless times to save me in editing labs. Couldn’t think of someone more deserving of this.

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