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In-plants Mourn Loss of Ray Burd

February 2014 By Bob Neubauer
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The University of Scranton is still reeling from the loss of one of its most dedicated employees on January 1. Ray Burd, director of Printing and Mailing Services for the past 24 years, was killed by a falling branch while cutting down a dead tree on his property in northeast Pennsylvania. He had just turned 63 and was planning to retire in two years.

“The staff loved him,” lauds Kevan Bailey, who has been asked to serve as interim director of Printing and Mailing Services. “He was always fair. He never held grudges, and he didn’t let the small things bother him.”

Bailey was working at the in-plant as a press operator when Mr. Burd started as shop manager in 1989.

“Ray took me under his wing and was my mentor,” says Bailey, who was impressed with the many improvements Mr. Burd brought over the years. He oversaw the merger of print and mail at Scranton in the 1990s, took over and managed the campus copier fleet program, and introduced the concept of variable data printing to the skeptical university. Mr. Burd had faith that VDP would take off, and sure enough, over time, he convinced the campus of this. Today, Bailey says, the in-plant prints variable data and images almost every day.

Well-respected for his publishing and printing expertise, Mr. Burd was often consulted by faculty, staff and designers for advice on their publications.

“His knowledge gave him the capability of looking at something and heading off a big problem before it started,” Bailey says.

Mr. Burd fought to centralize all university printing under the in-plant’s control and then oversaw the procurement of outside printing from qualified printers. 

Mr. Burd’s impact extended far beyond Scranton, Pa., though. 

“We often called upon one another for advice and/or insight,” remarks James Sabulski, manager of Print and Mail Services at nearby Misericordia University. “I definitely received more than I could offer. Ray was a true professional in all aspects of his work, and he will be greatly missed. His premature passing is a tragic loss to the graphic arts community and anyone who ever aspired to achieve excellence.”

Mr. Burd started attending the Association of College and University Printers conference in 2012, and quickly began lending his expertise.

“He was passionate about education and helping others advance in their careers,” notes ACUP President Lisa Hoover, director of Bucknell University’s Office of Publications, Print and Mail. “Ray had been actively involved with the ACUP Education Committee working on the certification program for members. His friendship, enthusiasm and contributions to ACUP will be missed.”

He was so excited to attend ACUP’s 2014 conference that he was the very first member to register and pay.

“He was very involved in ACUP, and his industry knowledge and opinions on business matters were highly regarded,” says Jennifer Bowers, ACUP’s administrative director. “I know I can speak on behalf of ACUP by saying he was an outstanding person and will be deeply missed by all of us whose lives he touched.”

In addition to overseeing the in-plant, Mr. Burd also served as an adjunct facility member and taught courses in communications. His zeal to help educate other managers motivated him to write an article for In-plant Printer magazine in 2003. And though he never wrote for IPG, he appreciated articles written to help managers improve their operations. Right before leaving for Christmas break, he shot off an email to IPG: 

“December’s edition just might be the best collection of editorial content that I can recall ever being published in any of our industry’s magazines,” he wrote. “It should be required reading for anyone in or entering our business. Great job!” Sadly, this was to be our last correspondence.

His latest project at Scranton was getting his in-plant FSC certified. He and Bailey had been looking into the InGreen group certification program for in-plants. 

“That was one of the last things we worked on,” remarks Bailey.

Mr. Burd, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1971 through 1975, was very active in veterans affairs on campus and was working to establish a veterans’ area at Scranton. In November, he was presented with the Department of the Army’s Commander’s Award For Public Service. 

A father of two and grandfather of five, Mr. Burd was an avid outdoorsman, fond of fishing, hunting, farming and tractors. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Linda.


 

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