Colleagues, friends celebrate Deborah Burris’ 36 years of service to the UM System
On Friday, a long line of well-wishers – colleagues, students and friends – queued up behind Deborah Burris in the Millennium Student Center Century Rooms to congratulate and celebrate the director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer at the University of Missouri–St. Louis on 36 years of service to the University of Missouri System.
Burris, who retired on Nov. 1, has made her mark on each of the four UM System universities, in myriad roles including leadership positions in student admissions and financial aid, human resources, affirmative action, Title IX, diversity, equity and inclusive excellence. Establishing the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council and the university receiving the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine three times are among her many noteworthy achievements at UMSL.
Interim Chancellor and Provost Kirstin Sobolik served as MC during the event and spoke of Burris’ impact on UMSL.
“Most important, Deborah has helped us create a culture that encourages civil and constructive discourse, reason, thought and sustained dialogue and an environment of respect and appreciation,” Sobolik said. “I’m going to reiterate those last two words because I feel that that defines Deborah: respect and appreciation.”
Among the speakers were Ken Hutchinson, former UM System vice president for the Office of Human Resources; Alicia Turner Roberson, president of the St. Louis Industry Liaison Group and Affirmative Action Specialist at Boeing; Catherine Wong from the St. Louis office of the U.S. Department of Labor; UMSL Chancellor Emeritus Blanche M. Touhill; Dorothea Scott, Compliance Manager, Equal Opportunity Programs in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Jerome Morris, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Urban Education in the College of Education.
The group called out Burris’ attributes and achievements, which ranged from her vision, ethics and class to her contributions to the St. Louis ILG Disability and Veteran Vendor Fair and Black Writers Student Association to anecdotes about her relationships with colleagues and her handling of difficult work situations. In addition, Scott presented Burris with a scrapbook of memories from her UMSL career.
And she’s not done helping people. Sobolik announced that Burris will be working at Episcopal City Mission as an ordained minister aiding incarcerated, adolescent black males to navigate the system.
Finally, Burris took the microphone to talk about her time at UMSL and thank her colleagues and collaborators.
“We do transform lives,” Burris said. “Every single one of you have been a part of that, that process of helping to shape, transform the lives of students, as faculty and staff. I’ve been blessed to be on the journey with you. So, again, thank you all for being here. It’s been awesome. I want to challenge each and every one of you to support one another, to encourage one another, to love one another, and again, to continue to do the good work that goes on here.”
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=82894