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The Centurion

The Inspiring Career of Professor Christopher Bursk

Emily Plewes, Centurion Staff

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Chris Bursk is one of Bucks’
most well-known Language and
Literature professors.
He’s been teaching at Bucks for
45 years. When he started here,
community colleges were in their
“infancy” as he puts it. He likes
working at them for the simple
idea of it being a community.
His father worked for Harvard.
“All of Harvard feels entitled,
and the students at Bucks are
very real and very bright. Many
of my friends are former Bucks
students.” This compelled him to
teach at Bucks County Community
College.
His work as a professor was
motivated by the lack of engagement
other professors had with
him during his own college years.
He brings the kind of enthusiasm
to all his classes that was lacking
in the professors who taught him.
Bursk has been involved in
the lives of students beyond just
teaching. “I slept with more students
than any other professor,”
he says jokingly. He’s referring
to the fact that in the Fireside
Lounge (an old area of the
school that now holds career and
transfer services) he used to hold
sleepover protests to raise funds
for homeless shelters, Libertae,
Vita, a Woman’s Place, Nova,
and the Red Cross, all part of his
activities as faculty adviser to the
Human Rights Club. The club was
around for 35 years, and ended up
raising over $100,000 for these
organizations. They would sleep
in cages and boxes to prove their
points.
The students make Bursk’s
job easier. “I am humbled by the
students, and wouldn’t want to
teach anywhere else.” But he says
standing before classes of up to 20
students can also be nerve-wracking
and anxiety-inducing.
Bursk also understands that
learning never stops. In that
vein he is taking two classes this
semester. He already took German
as a second language, and now is
taking Spanish 1 with Professor
Carol Smolen. He says she is very
patient with him. He is also taking
Basic Problems of Philosophy
with Dr. Mark Cobb. He is enjoying
this class, he says, because
it has rekindled in him a love of
note-taking.
Bursk teaches teaches Composition
110, and 111, as well as
a Creative Writing course. Each
course means something different
to him. Comp110 is fun for
him because of how engaging he
gets to be with it. He creates an
abundance of different activities
for the students, and himself, to
do. Comp111 leaves him feeling
proud. It is the hardest of all the
composition classes with the
expectation of a 25 page research
essay. When the students pass his
class and do well he is the most
proud of them. But he says Creative
Writing is his most rewarding
class.
Bursk himself is a creative
writer with 14 published books,
and one coming this Spring called
“A Car Stops and a Door Opens.”
This book took him 10 years to
write. “It’s about a ‘fictional’
boy who struggles to understand
his place in the world. It is also
about a very real older man who
too is trying to understand his
place in the world,” Bursk said.
The book’s cover and title was
designed by the tutoring center
staffer Bernadette Karp. He is
working on a new book that deals
with a kids’ encyclopedia. It will
also explore his work as a Sunday
school teacher.
In his free time he continues
to write and read. Two of his
favorite books are “Moby Dick”
and “Paradise Lost.” His favorite
author and one of his best friends
is Pamela Perkins Fredrick. Sadly,
Fredrick passed away two years
ago.
Bursk is always trying to inspire
the students at Bucks. “Trust in
the play of the mind, and trust in
yourself,” he advises students.

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The Inspiring Career of Professor Christopher Bursk