California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

Telecommunications’ Burns Gets Call as Employee of the Month

Published: May 15, 2009

Denise Burns, Telecommunications Coordinator in CSULB’s Telecommunications Office, was named by her co-workers recently as employee of the month.

Burns, who joined the university in 1982 as a telephone operator in the Telecommunications Department, was surprised to be named. “I felt really honored just to be nominated,” she said. “Being selected is an even greater honor. It really says something about what you do and how well you do it when you are recognized by the people you work with.”

CSULB President F. King Alexander applauded Burns. “She is always willing and ready to help when called upon, exemplifying what customer service is all about,” he said. “Denise always has a great attitude.”

There have been plenty of changes since Burns arrived on campus 27 years ago. “When I started out in Telecommunications, there were just three staff members, no computers and the telephones had buttons that lit up,” she recalls. “Since then, I’ve seen the arrival of computers, watched buildings being built up and torn down. I’ve also met a lot of really nice people and acquired many friends on campus.”

Coming to CSULB was a great career opportunity for Burns. “When I first arrived, I was 22 years old and had just moved back to Long Beach with my husband and our 1-year-old daughter,” she recalled. “That’s when I applied for a second time to join the university. Years later, I asked my good friend and Facilities Management’s Martha Rivera why she hired me. She told me one reason was that she found herself looking at a young woman with a family. It has worked out great, especially in light of today’s economy because I feel so lucky to still look forward to a good retirement.”

As Telecommunications Coordinator, Burns’ responsibilities include making sure campus phones work and are installed properly. “I’m in charge of anything to do with phones, including processing work orders and making sure large campus communication projects are done on time,” she explained. “I manage the campus voicemail, as well as all service for campus cell phones and Blackberries. When staff members need a cell phone or a Blackberry, they come to me.” Generally, hers is the voice you hear when receiving a campuswide voicemail message.

Burns’ skill set includes impeccable interpersonal communication and customer service skills. “I enjoy serving the campus by assisting staff and faculty to get what they need to do their jobs when it comes to on-campus communication and phones,” she said.

Time management is one key to communication success. “If Dr. Alexander needs any type of communication service, I make it my priority,” she said. “When he travels internationally, I often have only a few hours to make sure he is equipped with wireless service for his laptop, as well as a cell phone with international dialing to enable him to communicate with his staff here on campus.”

Denise Burns
Photo by David J. Nelson
Denise Burns (l) with President F. King Alexander

Trust is also essential to Burns’ job. “I’ve been on campus for so long, people have grown to trust my expertise,” she said. “For instance, someone may come to me with a concern regarding why their voice mail messages are arriving late. I will run a report to find out what the cause is and when I communicate the results of that report, I feel CSULB staffers are very receptive to the answers I provide them.”

When she isn’t busy making sure members of the campus are satisfied with their telecommunications needs, Burns is happy to spend time with her husband, James, their daughter, Casey, and new son-in-law Kyle. “My priority is my family,” she said. She also uses such campus facilities as Frog’s, as well as Recreation and Leisure Studies’ fitness programs.

Burns’ also has a great love for animals. “Every weekend, I work with a veterinary service that offers vaccinations to dogs and cats throughout Southern California,” she said.

The future holds many changes for university communication. “The world of electronics is changing rapidly and advancing quickly,” stated Burns. “I look forward to being a part of the changes and advances that may come as a result.”

One of the advantages to working at CSULB is her office environment. “I really enjoy where I work and the great group of people I work with,” Burns said. “I also feel very fortunate to have met my closest friends through working here on campus, including Susan Ransom, Martha Rivera and Gen Maestas.”

In addition to seeing Friendship Walk renamed Denise Burns Lane, she received several gifts including a CSULB sweatshirt, four passes to the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts, a $10 gift certificate for Katella Deli, a coupon for one free Original Tommy’s World Famous hamburger, a gift certificate for four tickets to a 2009 CSULB home game, a gift certificate for one pound of See’s Candies and a coupon for one free Whopper from Burger King.