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Missouri S&T professor awarded President’s Award for Service

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Christian Basi

April 27, 2015

Award recognizes faculty for distinguished service and exceptional contributions to the University of Missouri

ROLLA, Mo. – The University of Missouri System today announced Joel Burken, professor and associate chair of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, as the recipient of the UM System President’s Award for Service.

Missouri S&T Provost Robert Marley, on behalf of the UM System, surprised Burken with the award, which includes a $5,000 prize. The service award is the final of ten presidential awards to be presented in 2015 and it specifically recognizes faculty for distinguished service and exceptional contributions to achieving the goals of one of the four University of Missouri campuses or the UM System.

Burken joined the Missouri S&T faculty in 1997 as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering. Since that time, he has served on more than 20 university and department committees, as president of the Association of Environmental Engineering Science Professors, as a founder and vice president of the International Phytotechnologies Society, as chair of the campus promotion and tenure committee, and routinely serves as master of ceremonies and host for campus recruitment events.

Missouri S&T Provost Robert Marley (left) presents the President's Award for Service to Joel Burken while his wife, Hope, shares in the surprise.

Missouri S&T Provost Robert Marley (left) presents the President's Award for Service to Joel Burken while his wife, Hope, shares in the surprise.              

“I remember Joel’s service on the department’s curriculum committee at a time when numerous changes were debated and needed to be implemented,” wrote one nominator. “His leadership and hard work resulted in the creation of not only a more streamlined curriculum for our students, but one that was also responsive to alumni and employer feedback and needs.”

Along the way, his service to the campus has left its mark. Burken established the bachelor of science in environmental engineering program as well as a minor in sustainability and a minor in global studies. In 2009, he initiated the Green Campus Committee and led its initial course of action. The work of the committee is felt throughout the campus community including campus-wide energy audits, a total restructuring of the campus environmental management system, reductions in campus paper use fostered by print quotas, and a restructuring of campus solid waste programs.

In addition, Burken worked to fund and establish the Baker Greenhouse, a unique research and education facility that is enhanced by research instrumentation acquired through a National Science Foundation grant. He also led efforts to establish a green roof research facility that provides unique opportunities for research and education in the study of urban stormwater quality and urban heat islands.

In 2013, Burken was named director of the Environmental Research Center at Missouri S&T. The center integrates biological and physical systems involving emerging contaminants in natural and engineered systems.

Burken has been honored numerous other times for his teaching and academic pursuits. He received the Rudolph Hering Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1998 and 2007. In 2000, Burken received a faculty early career development award from the NSF. He has also been presented with Missouri S&T’s Faculty Excellence Award six times, and in 2012 received the Alumni Merit Award from the Miner Alumni Association.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Burken will be formally recognized by UM System President Tim Wolfe during an awards celebration to be held June 25.

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