By Ariel Ransom
Riveting posters featuring bloodthirsty aliens and grotesque homicidal monsters cover neutral colored walls, and variations of literature textbooks reside in fully packed shelves in Professor William Burns’ office. Burns is content in his domain that praises the fascinating realm of horror and comics, as the professor enthusiastically critics the ideas concerning the architecture of villains in today’s comic book industry.
The sheer passion that Burns resonates as he speaks is utterly refreshing, and it is no surprise why the students on campus form such an appreciation for the professor. Yet, fans of Burns do not know about the past of the infamous professor on campus.
“I had a normal suburban upbringing. My father was a policeman, my mom worked for the IRS, and I grew up in Holbrook. We took one vacation a year, and I even played Little League.” William Burns, the Associate Professor of English, said. “Nothing traumatic, just a normal childhood!”
Burns attended Hofstra University as an undergrad, completing with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English and Film. Continuing onto the Southern Connecticut State University, the beloved professor attained a Master of Arts degree in American Literature, and completed his studies with a Ph.D from the University of Rhode Island. However, Burns finding his way as a professor to Suffolk is heartening.
“I was on the job market, and I thought it was interesting growing up five minutes from the college, and going to school and college here [in Suffolk County].” Burns said. “If I didn’t have that sense of community and connection here, I wouldn’t be here.”
The sense of kinship Burns has for his childhood community aided him in gaining a position on campus, but the professor did not always want to be a teacher despite his astonishing fame among students. Burns was more interested with being an artist or movie director in his early schooling years, but admits that his skills are well-founded in being a professor.
“I don’t have an aptitude for anything else. Everything before teaching was an abject failure.” Burns said. “I just fell into it [being a professor at Suffolk]. I never thought about it.”
Professor Burns, despite his rising popularity, is humbled by the idea that students on campus are fond of him. Yet, students are not the only individuals who praise Burns, for his fellow peers acknowledge the unique charisma the professor has.
“He [William Burns] is in-tune with the modern trends in literature.” Edward Eriksson, a Professor of English, said. “He is into sci-fi and horror, and he has a lot of energy when he works with the students.”
Burns’ work with the students and devotion to their success is notable not only through his class lectures, but through his extra work in the Library Writing Center where he aids struggling students. The professor is proactive in helping students understand the mechanics of writing and literature, while still maintaining his comfortable atmosphere.
“I met him at my first semester of the Horror Science Fiction Club, and then I met him again in the writing center. When it comes to the Writing Center, I thought he was really hands on and helpful to everyone who sought help.” Donna Ossenfort, a Liberal Arts Major, said. “When it comes to the sci-fi club, I like that he showed movie clips because it opened your eyes to all the elements and different categories in sci-fi. I wasn’t in the club for long, but with him being in the writing center, he stood out because of his helpfulness and kindness towards the students.”
Burns has proven that he goes far beyond what is typical of a professor, as his unyielding kindness and energetic nature tares him apart from the typical campus educators. The unbridled passion and devotion Professor Burns emits when working with students is an astonishing trait that has fostered many supporters of the educator over the years, but Burns thinks of his popularity mildly.
“I don’t believe it [being a popular professor] what-so-ever. I just care about them [the students], and want to help them succeed in all aspects.”
Professor Burns’ humble nature is encouraging, but the wave of students who admire the professor is extensive. Witnessing the unique characteristics of Burns is encouraging, and reassures the students that the devotion associated with teaching is still alive on campus. Burns’ office is in the Islip Arts Building, teaches English 121 and 202, and is in charge of the Horror Science Fiction Club which is welcoming to enthusiastic new members.