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Hawaii Pacific chaplain wins Pariser Award

Dale Burke promotes community involvement for Hawaii Pacific athletes

The Rev. Dale Burke, longtime chaplain at Hawaii Pacific University and recipient of the 2015 Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award, is one of the most visible and prominent staff members on his campus.

But it wasn't always that way for the university chaplain and professor of more than 20 years. When he first assumed the role of university chaplain, he had to gain standing with students and student-athletes alike. In his first month at Hawaii Pacific, though, the school’s athletics director introduced him at an orientation meeting and encouraged their athletes to connect with Burke if they were dealing with problems on or off the field.

“I was stunned with the endorsement, since I didn't know he was going to say that,” Burke said. “But it gave me instant credibility to get to know as many student-athletes and coaches as possible and provide another voice that cares about the development of our student-athletes both in and outside the classroom.”

Burke has been enhancing that credibility ever since. He will receive the Pariser award during the Division II Faculty Athletics Representatives reception at the 2016 NCAA Convention in San Antonio. Recipients of the award, named after a Bellarmine University physical therapy professor who died in 2013, are selected by the Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. The prize honors faculty at Division II schools who mentor student-athletes and commit to their lifelong learning and well-being.

Christina Furrer, a former volleyball player at Hawaii Pacific, represents college athletes of the PacWest Conference on the Division II SAAC. Furrer vouched for Burke as a repeat nominee from the PacWest after he finished among the three finalists for the 2014 Pariser award.

“Rev. Burke addresses the mental, physical and spiritual sides of our student-athletes to ensure we become well-rounded individuals,” Furrer said. “His praises are often sung around campus, but he is never the one singing them. A truly humble and respectable man, Rev. Burke greatly deserves this honor.”

Burke regularly promotes community involvement among the student-athletes he counsels. And the chaplain practices what he preaches: As the father of a special-needs son, Burke has been involved with Special Olympics for 25 years, coaching basketball, swimming, soccer, bowling and bocce.

“My goal in involving our student-athletes with Special Olympics was to get them to see that a little effort on their part can make a huge difference in the lives of others, and giving back to the community pays off big,” Burke said. “Their participation made our Special Olympics athletes feel like they were in the NBA – a win-win.”

Burke studied biology at the University of California, Irvine, and went on to graduate studies at Ancilla Domini College and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. After many years as a parish pastor, he joined the faculty at Hawaii Pacific in 1994. In addition to his university chaplain position, he serves as a professor in the communications college, where his duties include teaching classes in public speaking as well as nonverbal communication.

“I am very honored to receive this award, but I prefer to put the spotlight on others,” Burke said. “I know that there are many other faculty mentors going above and beyond to encourage student-athletes and all other students to be their best, care about others, and to share the gifts they have been given with the world.”

Other finalists for the 2015 Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award were:

  • Professor Nancy Olson, Nova Southeastern University, Sunshine State Conference;
  • Dr. Wesley Cluck, Ouachita Baptist University, Great American Conference;
  • Dr. Brenda Patterson, Trevecca Nazarene University, Great Midwest Athletic Conference.