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July, 2019

Staff, Faculty Honored for Longtime Commitment

By Catherine Lee

Catholic University painter Derek Queen begins his workday at 7:30 a.m. in the carpentry shop housed in the stucco building behind CUA’s power plant. Sally Burdette starts her day at 7 in the morning responding to help requests at the Center for Planning and Information Technology’s Information Center in Leahy Hall.

Sally Burdette, Father O'Connell and Derek Queen at the service awards dinner.

Excerpts of Remarks by Father O'Connell at the Service Dinner

Many wonderful people make up the CUA community, with many roles and responsibilities and positions. One of the beautiful things about tonight is that we honor all of them. We do not single people out by job or title: We are one community. The thing we celebrate is service; and the only titles are 10 or 20 years.

We just finished Thanksgiving — a season and time for gratitude. It’s appropriate after the holiday break that we continue to say thanks, thanks to these honorees, our colleagues and friends and all those who fall somewhere else in length of service. And so, as president, I speak for everyone at CUA saying, “Thank you. Thank you for what you do and for the way you do it.”

The beauty of our Catholic identity and mission at CUA is that, by their very nature, they lead to service no matter what faith we may profess. All that we teach and learn — and all that we labor to create and support so that teaching and learning take place in this great university — leads to service. We see it everywhere on campus. We post it on signs: “In service to Church, nation and world.”

Tonight is an annual celebration of the service that is performed on our campus in very visible and more often invisible ways. And so I thank you.
Queen and Burdette work at different ends of campus, but Monday through Friday they bring the same exemplary dedication to their jobs and the university. Queen has served as a painter with the Office of Facilities Maintenance and Operations for 20 years, Burdette as coordinator of the Information Center for 10 years.

On Nov. 27, at a dinner at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, Queen and Burdette were among 35 faculty and staff members with 10 or 20 years of service at CUA who were honored by Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president. (See box for an excerpt from Father O'Connell’s remarks.)

“Ready to Do Anything”
Sitting at a table in the carpentry shop, his walkie-talkie crackling periodically with the sound of a dispatcher’s voice, Derek Queen talks about his 20-plus years of service at Catholic University. He actually took his first job at CUA in 1984, and worked on and off at the university until a full-time opening came up in 1987.

Queen, 42, explains that longtime family ties to the university first brought him to campus as a youngster. He remembers visiting CUA with his father, William “Pete” Queen, a carpenter who worked for the university until the early 1970s. Derek’s uncle, Clifton Queen, was the manager of CUA’s carpentry shop when he retired about 10 years ago.

Since he started working full time, Derek and his family have moved to Waldorf, Md., and even a 90-minute commute hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm for working at CUA.

“I love this place,” he says. “I’ve spent more than half my life here. It’s like family.”

A self-described workaholic, he says he arrives on campus in the early morning “ready to work, ready to do anything.” He first checks his box in the carpentry shop for work orders and then heads out to take care of painting and repair jobs on a campus that has changed dramatically since he first started at Catholic University.

Since 1984, CUA has constructed almost 20 new buildings, including the eight residence halls of Centennial Village, Millennium North and South, the Pryzbyla Center and the Columbus School of Law building.

When Queen started working at CUA, there was a swimming pool in the basement of what is now the Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies. At the time, the building was the university gymnasium, with an adjacent football stadium located in the open space that now lies between the law school, built in 1994, and the Pryzbyla Center, completed in 2003.

“I remember painting the lines on the bottom of the pool and the letters on the scoreboard of the football stadium,” he says. Now both the pool and the old football stadium are gone and the scoreboard on the upper field of the Raymond A. DuFour (Athletic) Center is electronic.

When the need arises, Queen says he is available for “whatever else needs to be done,” which might include laying tile or shoveling snow. One of his favorite jobs is helping to install the painted wooden university seal over the doorway of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception — the backdrop for the university’s annual commencement — the day before the ceremony in May.

When commencement ends, Queen and his co-workers are responsible for taking the seal down. Though he could simply wait in the carpentry shop for the call that the event is over, Queen always attends the ceremony.

“My co-workers kid me,” he says. “They ask me why I’m going to commencement again. To me, it’s so exciting. I have a tear in my eye seeing students I’ve known for four years and their parents, who are so proud.”

An Attentive Ear and a Counseling Voice
Life is good for the CUA student, faculty member or staffer who calls the Information Center Help Desk and gets Sally Burdette.

Reaching for a small notebook, Burdette answers the phone: “Good morning! Computer Information Center. This is Sally. How may I help you?” Her voice reassuring, her pen at the ready, she listens to the staffer who has forgotten his password or the student who can’t access CUA’s online Cardinal Station and needs to find a theology course that meets before 10 a.m. or after 11 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“The mother of the Information Center,” as one CPIT colleague describes her, Burdette seems unfailingly patient, polite and prompt with her responses. After all, she says, the Catholic University community deserves nothing less.

“Catholic University is a wonderful place that provides a great education,” says Burdette, whose daughter, Melynda Burdette, graduated from CUA in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in music. “I love my job, the people I work with and the campus,” says the long-term employee. “What could be better?”

She is one of four full-time CPIT Information Center employees who work staggered shifts in order to staff the center from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. As the early bird on the Information Center team, she responds to e-mails and voice messages that come in overnight. She can solve some problems over the phone, but in some cases she has to fill out a ticket — a work order — for the services of a technician.

Between May 1 and Nov. 15 this year, CPIT — which includes three divisions — has responded to 21,413 tickets. The Information Center, part of CPIT’s Networking and Systems Division, has handled 17,720 of those tickets.

Prior to joining the CPIT staff, Burdette worked as a librarian for five years and, before that, as an elementary school teacher for 22 years. Burdette, who has master’s degrees in education and in library and information science, found herself increasingly interested in information technology and the connection between that and her work as a reference librarian.

Her library experience comes in handy when students in Professor Diane Bunce’s chemistry courses stop by the Information Center; required to dress up as chemical elements for Halloween, they ask where they can find information on the Internet that would help them create a costume representing an obscure element.

What Burdette says she appreciates most about working at CUA is her colleagues. When her husband died four and a half years ago, she says the support of her CPIT colleagues as well as friends around campus “was wonderful. I’d never had that kind of support from work colleagues before. This truly is a special place.”
Below is a list of this year’s other 10- and 20-year honorees:

Father O'Connell poses with many of the 10- and 20-year employees.

20 Years of Service:

Jesus Flavio Barrientos, carpenter, building maintenance and grounds
Rita C. Barriteau, administrative assistant, international student and scholar services
Margaret M. Barry, associate professor, law school
Kenneth R. Forrest, special events coordinator, custodial services
Juanita A. Glenn, Web content coordinator, law school
Stephanie L. Michael, director, faculty support services, law school
Terri R. Miller, administrative assistant, social work school
Jowanna M. Nathan, coordinator, graduate student services, arts and sciences
Larry Wonniemaker, zone refrigeration mechanic, power plant
John L. Young, cleaner, custodial services

10 Years of Service:

Mohammed Adel-Hadadi, postdoctoral research associate, chemistry
Luis E. Boza, assistant professor, architecture and planning
Antonio A. Coley, sergeant, public safety
James S. Curry, EMS/control technician, power plant
Patricia E. Davila, assistant director, student life and special events, law school
Gregory T. Doolan, assistant professor, philosophy
Frank Thomas Ferguson, research associate, chemistry
Lisa Rene Fletcher, director, accounts payable
Cynthia A. Floyd-Davis, manager, institutional loans and work study, financial aid
Jonathan Frost, truck driver/cleaner, custodial services
Saiid Ganjalizadeh, assistant director, instructional services, CPIT
Nora M. Heimann, associate professor, art
Lizy T. Kannarkat, assistant controller, general accounting, controller's office
Rev. Robert J. Kaslyn, assistant professor, canon law
Vladimir A. Krasnopolsky, research professor, physics
William F. Lantry, director, academic technology services, CPIT
Etta S. Manneh, cleaner, custodial services
Denis J. Obermeyer, rare books technician, Mullen Library
Joseph A. Robbins, systems administrator, CPIT
Corrine Simon, clerk, postal services
Dawn Sobol, interlibrary loan/circulation librarian, law school library
Mary Agnes Thompson, reference librarian, Mullen Library
Karlton E. Tucker, systems administrator, CPIT


In addition to those honored on Nov. 27, Catholic University celebrated four decades of service by Ingrid Merkel, associate professor of modern languages and literatures and former director of the University Honors Program, at a Nov. 15 dinner in the May Gallery of the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library. For details, click here.

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Last Revised 29-Nov-07 09:33 AM.