How two married professors make it work

By Amelia Hitchens

Features Editor

Denison University is home to many married couples throughout the faculty.  When Catherine Dollard ‘88 applied to work in the history department, she did not expect to soon meet her soul mate. Dollard met her husband, Tim Burczak, at a first year faculty orientation. Burczak had been working at Denison for a year while Dollard was beginning her first year. “We met in the fall of 1996 during a new faculty orientation event (I was new, he had been here for one year). We got engaged in 1998, married in 1999.” says Dollard.

As young colleagues, the duo often spent time together through their group of mutual friends. Conversely, now that the couple is married, they do not see each other often during the workday; however they enjoy getting lunch together and attending their sons extra-curricular activities. Burczak told The Denisonian that he typically sees his wife about once a week during school hours. The pair work in different departments; (Dollard is a history professor, while Burczak is in the economics department) and that seems to be a benefit for them. “I like working together at Denison. We share a similar educational philosophy and support each other” says Burczak.

Burczak received his undergraduate degree at SUNY Binghamton in 1986 and his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1994.  His favorite class to teach here at Denison is Economic Justice, however he also enjoys teaching his other classes; Intro Macroeconomis, Intermediate Macroeconomics, History of Economic Thought II (of the 20th Century). He told the Denisonian that “economics is the perfect blend of social philosophy and analytical reasoning, two things I really like.”

Professor Dollard grew up in Washington, Penn., and also lived in DuBois, Penn. during college.  After graduating from Denison in 1988, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to achieve her Ph.D. in 2000. Dollard had only spent eight years away from Denison before returning to Denison. Her goal had been to each and conduct research at a liberal arts college, and Denison provided her that opportunity. “I was very fortunate to come to Denison as a replacement hire when a member of the department unexpectedly resigned in 1996.” 

She teaches classes such as Modern Europe; Modern Germany; World War 1; 20th Century Eastern Europe; War, Gender and Society along with many other classes.  She says she was driven to the history department because she believes “that the practice of studying the past is uniquely able to inspire the moral imagination.” She also told the Denisonian that she considers herself to be “very blessed to end up working in a place that I care about a great deal. Teaching is a privilege and I enjoy it a lot.”

Dollard shared a teaching experience with Professor Dave Bussan who works in the theatre department. Both professors had a lot of travel experience and eventually received grant funds to take twelve faculty members to Berlin and Nicosia on a travel seminar that engaged with key officials in both places.  This fund was made possible with the help of Keith Boone, former Associate Provost, and Zaven Karian, Mellon coordinator at the time. “We think it went very well, and hope to teach it again as the program continues to develop.”

Dollard told The Denisonian that working with a spouse definitely has its pros and cons.  While the academic calendar allows excellent vacation time, it also means they share the same hectic times, name during midterm and finals week. Luckily, Dollard believes she and her husband are able to manage their work well, keeping it separate from their home life.

The couple has considered collaborating their ideas and working together, possibly creating a class based upon the interwar period.  “We’ve kicked around the idea of developing a course that brings together the cultural and political circumstances of that era in Europe.” Unfortunately, they have come to find that the economics faculty do not have a lot of room to teach out of the main curriculum.

She and her family currently live in Granville and can’t picture themselves living anywhere else. Dollard’s two sons, Jack and George, attend Granville City Schools and will one day begin the college search. Dollard said, “Our boys get up to campus for a fair number of events and have gotten to know several students over the years.” Though her older son Jack has no desire to attend Denison, George, the younger son, can picture himself being a part of the Big Red community one day because of the wide range of interests and the inviting learning environment. 

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