Celebrating The Pride Of BSU
The 2017 Gala At Bowie State University Salutes Exiting President Mickey L. Burnim
The typical thing that occurs at the Bowie State University Founder’s Day Gala every year is the awards given to community and business leaders. Each year, the Hollywood-styled event tops the last in glamorous splendor and stellar performances, all while honoring the past and inspiring the future.
But this year was different. And because of that only one was honored this year, focusing the entire evening to paying tribute to President Mickey L. Burnim.
Burnim’s retirement from the University ends nearly 12 years at the helm of one of the nation’s oldest Historically Black Colleges & Universities. Even as he modestly accepted the honors of the evening, Burnim, always a man of God, reflected upon the support of God and community in all of his success at BSU.
Under Dr. Burnim's leadership, Bowie State University has added eight new degree programs, including a doctorate in computer science and a bachelor's degree in the emerging field of bioinformatics. A state of the art $71 million Fine and Performing Arts Center is now also a part of the campus’ offerings along with a new $42 million Student Center in 2013 and an $107 million Science, Mathematics and Nursing complex slated to open in 2017.
“You can now appreciate the harvest of the seeds you have planted,” said Sen. C. Anthony Muse as he awarded Burnim at MGM National Harbor’s Main Ballroom moments before the start of the official gala. Proceeds from the gala will go to the BSU Endowed Chair Fund. Leaders at BSU seek to raise $1.5 million before Dr. Burnim leaves office in June.
Burnim’s son, Adrian, told his father’s story well. Among the great weaving oratory on Burnim’s origins under segregation, he said that one story summed up his dad’s character and grace under pressure. “We were coming back from a vacation and there was a winter storm. All the other cars were sliding around and stuck on the side of the road. But dad kept both hands on the wheel, kept his eyes focused and never stopped. He stayed focused on getting himself and his family through that. We got through it. That was him with everything: focused and clear under pressure. And from that moment he was my hero.”
Burnim and his wife of over 40 years, LaVera Levels Burnim, are planning to travel in the months ahead. Dr. Burnim will author a new book as well.
"Everything I have done, everything I am and everything I will be is because of Him," Burnim said.