As a couple of colleagues pointed out, there is no shortage of words to describe Paul Burrows — witty, kind, affable, warm, smart, dedicated, meticulous, and caring. The Teaching & Learning Technologies information architect, who is retiring after 40 years with the University of Utah, leaves
a global legacy in multimedia and instructional design, and a lasting impression among his peers.
Ahead of his June 30 retirement, we asked Paul's colleagues to share their favorite
memories of, stories about, and well wishes for him. Thank you again to everyone who
submitted a tribute — all of them will be shared with Paul.
A lightly edited selection of submissions is below.
The UOnline Team in Teaching & Learning Technologies, as photographed in fall 2018.
Paul is one of my favorite people to work with at the university. He has taught me
what it means to take ownership of a project. We throw that word — "ownership" — around
a lot, but Paul has shown me that it is more than just meeting predefined checkboxes.
For Paul, problems are embedded in the real world and he is not content until he has
covered this full context. Furthermore, Paul's passion is contagious, and so he is
able to effect change across the institution in ways that are as creative as they
Thank you, Paul, for your years of devoted service to the university. With your intelligence,
enthusiasm, and wry sense of humor, you have made the university a better place. TLT
will certainly miss you, and I will personally will miss you very much.
Thank you for being a wonderful colleague, mentor, and friend.
Best wishes on your future travels and adventures.
— Jon Thomas, Teaching & Learning Technologies
Paul recruited and hired me in 1998. I have come to regard him as creative, extremely
talented, and generous to a fault. He is kind and precise, and always wears a smile.
To describe Mr. Burrows as a Mac enthusiast is an understatement; I am pretty sure
if you analyzed his DNA sequence, you would find an abundance of Apple chromosomes!
Paul’s meticulous nature, dedication to excellence, and personal integrity continues
to gain my respect and admiration. I am forever grateful to Paul for providing me
with a career opportunity that has defined my life.
— Marc Thompson, University Support Services
I have known Paul for all of my 30 years working at the University of Utah. He has
always treated me (and everyone he encounters) with kindness, respect, and professionalism.
Paul is one of those people who knows just about everything but never acts as if he
does. He is humble and gracious. He is meticulous with the details. If you ask him
to work on a project, you can bet it will be done with the accuracy and precision
of a Swiss clockmaker. I am going to miss our coffee chats in the morning, his positive
reinforcement when I am feeling down, and his generally bright spirit. I am happy
that he can retire and sad that I won't get to see him every day. Paul, you have been
a truly bright spot in my day and my life. THANK YOU so much. You are loved.
— Cindy Hanson, Teaching & Learning Technologies
Paul has been a joy to work with on the Teaching and Learning Portfolio! I have greatly
appreciated his organization, clear thinking, and efficient communication — all infused
with his wickedly good sense of humor. His personable demeanor and sense of fun has
made even the most arduous tasks enjoyable — no small feat as he facilitated multiday
deliberation meetings filled with tough decisions and massive budget cuts. Paul's
ability to lead with grace, style, and humor will be missed terribly.
Enjoy retirement and think of us (toiling away and looking for budget cuts) while
you sip a cocktail in the sunshine somewhere! (Send us a postcard!)
Happy retirement, Paul! I will miss you!
— Kirsten Butcher, Educational Psychology
The first thing that comes to mind right away about Paul is that his brain is a complex
framework that is capable of housing incredibly complex data and knowledge. Consequently,
when he transfers that knowledge from brain to paper, the end result is documentation
AMAZINGNESS like you have never seen before.
I was put in charge of a project to replace our discontinued Google Search Appliance,
and Paul had overseen the rollout of the original project. Paul's documentation of
the project was so thorough and so complete that at first it made my head spin, but
once that stopped, it made my life SO MUCH EASIER to have all that information and
background context to refer back to. I can only dream of producing documentation that
The second thing that comes to mind is the fact that he is responsible for adding
the term "fiddly bits" to my lexicon. And every time I say "fiddly bits," I smile
because it's just so silly, yet descriptive.
Most of all though, when I think about Paul, I think of a kind, warm, funny soul who
is just the type of person that everyone needs to have in their work orbit. I have
certainly enjoyed Paul's musings and humor throughout the years (I mean, c'mon, his
virtual Zoom background of a bar? HILARIOUS!!!).
— Barb Iannucci, Content Management & Usability
This photo was taken at a workshop I conducted to complete my Appreciative Inquiry
Facilitator certification. Paul and Paula Millington were tasked with creating a visual
model that represented the strategic topic or theme the team was developing.
— Chris Pfeiffer, Strategic Planning & Process Team
Paul's sense of order and the importance of transparent processes resulted in a model
deliberation process for the student computing fee committee. This evolved over time
but every year got stronger, more beautiful, and more informative. Besides that, every
time Paul presented, he brought his wonderful sense of humor, enlivening what could
be boring meetings. Paul is someone who will really be missed at the institution.
He made a difference.
— Martha Bradley Evans, Undergraduate Studies
Burrows attends the 2016 UIT Holiday Luncheon.
In the years I've worked with him, Paul has stood out as the person to whom you could
always pose questions — any question, all questions. No matter how off-the-wall, tangential,
or untimely your questions may be, Paul somehow always happened to have answers, information,
insights, or resources he could share, and he was always happy to lay out all of these
things, in detail, in prompt, cheerful, and witty emails. By retiring, the U is going
to lose not just a font of institutional knowledge, but someone who was always willing
to share this information with others.
Congratulations on your retirement, Paul! We will miss you.
— Cecile Paskett, Teaching & Learning Technologies
Paul Burrows hired me as an intern at Media Solutions during the summer between my
junior and senior years at the U and never managed to get rid of me, even after I
graduated. He took a smart-a** college student and turned him into a professional-a**
Paul managed a group at MedSol that did anything media-related you could think of.
If a project required something we didn't know how to do, we figured it out and still
managed to deliver a professional-quality result. He taught me to see problems as
puzzles to solve. Our projects were usually fun and interesting, and when they weren't,
at least they were good learning experiences.
Paul was a mentor in every sense of the word, quickly recognizing and cultivating
talents you had running beneath the surface. He gave me plenty of latitude to spread
my wings, let me do things my way, and was always there to gently chide and correct
me when I'd bitten off more than I could chew.
He was the best kind of boss: He let you know what he expected, cleared obstacles,
offered advice, and got out of your way. He stuck up for you when you needed it and
made sure you got the credit you deserved.
Nobody was more knowledgeable than Paul. Even when we were working on the bleeding
edge of multimedia technology, he had fully researched everything and could offer
assistance (and ample documentation) when needed.
Paul had a good sense of humor and was fun to tease. He would write and email these
massive dossiers, detailing everything I could possibly need to know about a new project
to start. I took great pleasure in printing off all 900 pages of these monsters, walking
in to his office and saying, "Ugh, I'm not reading all this. Bottom line it for me
— what are we doing here?"
I'd like to say he'd throw something to dismiss me, but he would never mess up his
tidy office. Even densely-packed with knick-knacks and things he'd collected over
his career, his office at EBC was a monument to orderliness.
His backpack was a perfectly-ordered (and heavy) cube that would make an Apple designer
The most bittersweet part of getting old is recognizing all the times in life when
you had no idea how good you had it. Paul Burrows was there for me at the exact point
in my life and career when I needed him the most. His retirement is going to be an
enormous loss to me, his colleagues, and the university as a whole. We will miss how
good we had it when he was here.
I'll miss you, Pablo!
— Geoff Anderson, University Support Services
Paul and I have collaborated since 1985, or 35 years. It is a pleasure to have a
colleague become a life-long friend. As a teacher of pathology and neurosciences,
I had consulted with him, wanting to explore the use of new technology, linking computers
with images. With his background in instructional design and technology, he was the
perfect producer. He understood the process — in fact, he had already made a LaserVision
videodisc, and the broadcast quality studio that was part of Instructional Media was
available for faculty support. Thus, began a series of videodiscs for use in Utah
educational projects in cardiology, pathology, anatomy, dermatology, histology, etc.
This project, with tremendous support from the Eccles Health Sciences Library and
student computing summer fellowships, grew in three directions:
- The production of a multicontributor and user videodisc called the Slice of Life,
which resulted in seven editions between 1986 and 1996. This required hours of studio
time as producer Paul and the faculty or summer student created a master tape from
Kodachrome slides that were transferred from slides projected onto the wall to analog
video images laid down on a master tape. Each frame also had to be indexed, and the
index, a relational database, for each disc was also made by Paul.
- The distribution of the disc, its image database, and accompanying faculty-created
software by the contributors, as well as other interested users, resulted in the creation
of the Slice of Life office in the Eccles Health Sciences Library managed by Mike
Thelin. Sales of discs, databases, and software resulted in funds to support the office,
new editions, and annual workshops. Publishers of specialized educational software
did not exist at that time.
- The annual Slice of Life workshops from 1989 to 2007 brought contributors, faculty,
developers, and users together to share their resources and skills. Paul managed all
the technical logistics for the “stage,” which included cases of cables, monitors,
players, computers. The small meeting of users of multimedia (a term that did not
exist then) continued beyond the demise of the videodisc! Increased storage permitted
digital images, CD-ROMs, laptops, tablets, iPhones, and streaming video to be used
for education, and Paul led workshops on digital video and other new technologies.
The workshops were hosted by universities in the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Germany,
the Netherlands, and Denmark, and Paul managed every one.
Another major collaboration with Paul was the creation of the NeuroLogic Exam website.
Once digital video was a possibility and teaching on the internet common, Paul worked
with Dr. Larsen, on sabbatical, to create a teaching site for the neurological exam
with video examples of the normal and pathological patient. This major effort posted
to the web in 2002 is still functioning due to Paul’s clever design and maintenance.
Furthermore, the hundreds of videos embedded in it are free to download and embed
in teaching programs worldwide. Each day Paul approves and supports users from almost
every country on earth who reuse this resource. The site has expanded to include the
pediatric neurological exam and neuroanatomy lab videos to also support neuroscience
teaching. All of this will remain with the Eccles Health Sciences Library for continued
I am pleased to have worked with Paul for 35 of his 40 years. He made my academic
career, and for this, I am most grateful. His expertise allowed me to be on the forward
edge of the use of new technologies in education. His workshops for faculty helped
so many in using new teaching technologies. Today, universities have entire departments
for faculty development and online teaching, but in the late 1980s and early ’90s,
he was a one-man show.
I look forward to seeing Paul in retirement. We will continue to travel, having been
to many national and international venues together. Once cameras went digital, I have
evidence that we and the rubber chicken were in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Scotland,
Paris, Belgium, and Prague. I am happy to share our adventures with others less fortunate
in having such a lengthy collaboration.
— Suzanne Stensaas, School of Medicine