The Inspiring Career of Professor Christopher Bursk

Emily Plewes, Centurion Staff

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 taught at 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 philosophy 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.

This was all a 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. Bursk and his students 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.