A Servant of the People
May 21, 2012 – Today marks the 60th anniversary of the hiring of Frank Burge as director of the the Kansas Union. There are many reasons why this is significant.
First, Frank Burge was the first full-time director of the Kansas Union, coming from the University of Iowa Union. In the 85+ years of the Unions, there have been only three full-time union directors. Mr. Burge was the director for 32 of those years and took the Union from a small concern that met certain campus needs into the full-blown service and conference center that we enjoy today. James Long (director from 1983-1999) and current director David Mucci continued the work of Frank Burge and have done a great job in continuing his legacy.
Another significant reason for celebrating the career of Frank Burge is that he left a legacy of service that all KU Memorial Unions and University staff still try to match. From the smallest need of a student to the needs of the Chancellor, Mr. Burge always went out of his way to make people welcome and make them feel important. During every renovation in the Union, and there were many during his time here, he sought out the people doing the hard work behind the scenes to make the Union a better place. Whether this was simply acknowledging a catering staff person for their good service or a giving construction workers in the building a few dozen donuts, Mr. Burge was your friend. He made a practice of treating employees and workers as important members of the Union family. Of course Mr. Burge also expected the best from his staff, and he usually got it. No one wanted to let Frank down.
Frank experienced health issues during his last year at the Union, and most people did not think he would recover. But recover he did, and he began spreading goodwill throughout the community, taking cookies to a construction worker on campus or picking asparagus and giving pieces of it to people he met during the day. After his medications forced Frank to discontinue driving a car, he begin riding a bicycle all over town instead. But a car met with Frank’s bicycle, and once again, we didn’t think Frank would recover. But once again he came back and continued his practice of giving back to the community he loved. Frank spent the 11 years after his retirement giving back to the University and community he loved, and passed away on July 3, 2004.
Thanks to Frank Burge for building a great organization, and for giving back to the students, faculty and staff of the University of Kansas.