Mary Burg (Left)
- Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, 1996 - present
- Member, Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center Advisory Board, 2004 - present
- Member, Community Cooperation Committee, 2007-‘11
How I became interested in my field:
I have a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I never expected that my career path would lead to the title of “Assistant to” for 25 years! I began my career as a reporter for my hometown newspaper and then joined VISTA and coordinated a neighborhood arts center for youth living in housing projects in Raleigh, NC. I changed careers to arts management and directed a county arts council in North Carolina and managed a modern dance company in State College, PA. Following a brief stint as an advertising copywriter, I began working at Penn State doing the national marketing for distance education classes. Thus began my career in higher education, which led me to the University of Kentucky and to the University of Kansas.
An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me:
Since my father’s death a few years ago, I have become more and more involved with aging issues. I had the privilege of being with my father for the last four years of his life and when he died. I observed the challenges of being old in a youth-oriented society and the difficulties, both physical and mental, of growing older. Since his death, I have been active in the advisory committee of and fundraising for Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence, where he lived. I also became a trustee of Presyberian Manors of Mid-America, which oversees 17 retirement communities in Kansas and Missouri. Not bad for a Catholic girl!
Someone who has been a role model for me and why:
My mother has been my greatest role model. She was deeply empathetic, kind, non-judgmental and a great listener. I try to channel her in many aspects of my life and especially in my friendships and relationships.
Someone who has been influential or had a significant impact on my life:
KU Chancellor Emeritus Robert Hemenway has had a major impact on my life and career. I worked for him for 19 years, when he was Chancellor for the Lexington Campus of the University of Kentucky and Chancellor here. He taught me a number of valuable lessons, including the importance of good writing. He often said that those who write well, think well. He also taught me to be straightforward and clear in my communication and to think beyond my own comfortable experience to understand how others are feeling.
My favorite KU memory:
Enrolling my younger son, Will, as a freshman at KU and seeing the campus through his eyes with all the opportunities and challenges unfolding before him.
An important life lesson I have learned:
DON’T be a workaholic! Put in your 40 hours or 50 hours a week if that’s what it takes to get the job done. But don’t kill yourself trying to be the first person in and the last person out each day. On your deathbed, are you going to say: “Gee, I wish I had worked harder?” No, you’re going to say: “I wish I had spent more time with my family and my friends.” I have observed that workaholics aren’t appreciated; they’re taken for granted. When those 60-hour weeks become the norm, they become the expectation and you get no extra credit for it. So, I’ve learned to set priorities and focus on them, which has allowed me to be productive within a normal work week, giving me time for a life outside of the office.
A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:
Three times in my life I’ve gotten the same message in a fortune cookie: “Your ability to juggle many tasks will take you far.” That is basically the story of my career!