Lector and Eucharistic minister
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
"All liberal arts graduates are really that way," said Burgland, who
graduated from Knox College in 1968 with a degree in mathematics
and a secondary education teaching certificate. "They are capable of doing lots of different things and thinking in lots of different ways. You can't pigeon-hole a liberal arts graduate, because they have so many interests and they are not afraid to try new things. They are just not afraid to try."
Burgland has tried her hand at teaching and coaching, among many other things. No matter what she has done, she has been passionate.
"That is how I fell out of the womb. I don't think Knox imparted the drive in me," said Burgland, who grew up in Abingdon, attended St. Joseph's Academy and Corpus Christi High School in Galesburg and went to Knox thanks to an academic scholarship.
"What Knox imparted was a drive for excellence and to do the best I could do," she said. "Everywhere I looked around me when I attended Knox, I saw role models, people that I wanted to imitate. I watched them excelling and I wanted to do the best I could at excelling."
Burgland, the oldest of Sam and Tilly Mangieri's 12 children, loves to help those she meets.
"The Knox education, in my opinion, continued the education that I had at St. Joseph's and at Corpus Christi, to reach beyond myself," she said. "To go out there and help the world be a better place. Everything I do, I try to make whatever better for other people."
Even while a student at Knox, Burgland influenced others' lives.
"I was secretary of the senior class. I was vice president of the Pi Phi's. I was the secretary to the history department, and during the time that I was at Knox I worked for four years for Dr. Stipp," she said, referring to the late John Stipp, a longtime Knox professor of history. "In that time, he wrote a two-volume Western Civilization textbook that was one of the big sellers for John Wiley and Sons. I typed every single word of that in the 15 hours a week that I worked for Dr. Stipp."
After graduation, Burgland moved to the Chicago area to teach at Evanston Township High School, which that year was named the best high school in the nation by the Ladies Home Journal.
Four years later, she moved back to Galesburg.
"I fell in love with George Burgland and he wanted to open a pharmacy. He wanted to come back to Galesburg and own his own drug store," she said. "His parents, his grandparents, his great grandparents had all been in business on Main Street in Galesburg. There was 150 years of tradition that he wanted to continue."
When Burgland came back to Galesburg, she taught at Galesburg High School for two years until taking a hiatus to give birth to and take care of her children, Caroline and Richie.
In 1987, she started teaching again. She taught at Costa Catholic Academy, then Carl Sandburg College, before finally landing at Knox as a part-time mathematics instructor.
In 1990, Burgland walked down an unfamiliar path when she started working in Knox's admission office, and after a few years, she landed in Knox's alumni affairs office.
"Mary is a natural teacher," said Melissa Arney, who worked with Burgland in the alumni affairs office. "She loves to teach; that comes through in practically everything she does. She is not teaching anymore but that is just a part of who she is. I'm sure she is doing some type of teaching, formal or informal, pretty much everyday. "
While working in alumni affairs, Burgland was asked to coach Knox's women's golf team, a program that her daughter helped start and a position she held from 2000 to 2004. While under Burgland's reign, Knox won four straight Midwest Conference Championships.
"Mary brought an intensity to her coaching, like all the activities that she is involved with, which enhances the experiences of the people involved," said Harley Knosher, a Knox coaching legend and former athletic director.
In her time at Knox, as a student, the institution changed Burgland.
"Knox made me more of a critical thinker," she said. "Knox made me more liberal than I was growing up. When I say liberal, what it did was it opened up more pathways of thinking for me."
Burgland has strong emotions about her alma mater.
"I really believe in what Knox is trying to do," she said. "That is why I am so passionate about it."
Not only is she passionate about Knox, but Burgland is also avid about the local community, and she helps out a number of organizations.
Presently, she is the president of the Galesburg Sunrise Rotary, director of the Chicago District Golf Association, and she volunteers for the Peoria Park District during the summer. She is also a lector and a Eucharistic minister at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, and a member of the P.E.O. sisterhood, as well as the recording security for the Galesburg chapter of Pi Beta Phi.
In the past, she was the organizer of the grassroots effort to save the ornamental street light system in Galesburg in the mid-to late-'80s. She also was on the start-up committee for Discovery Depot and on the original Orpheum Theatre saving committee.
Burgland does all that she does for one simple reason, because she likes to.
"I grew up with a set of parents who taught their children to be a part of the community and to give back- to make a difference. I got locked into the running of organizations, because I participate in what these organizations do," she said. "I feel an obligation to help these things continue by offering my help. It is not to get an award. It is to help them stay healthy. You can't keep organizations going unless you give them your time. Many people focus in one area, but I don't have a focus. I have the liberal arts mind. I like to do lots of stuff. I like to help the schools that taught me. I just like a variety of things."
This profile appeared in "Galesburg Is Knox: Breaking the Bubble," a senior captstone project by Knox College student Matthew Wheaton '10 that explored connections between the city of Galesburg and Knox. View more of Wheaton's project.
Photograph of Mary Burgland by Evan Temchin '10.