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Buirski returns to full-time teaching

If you happen to wander by Peter Buirski’s house on any given evening, you might hear a saxophone.

“I’ve been taking lessons for the last five years. It’s nice, at my age, to be getting better at something,” he says with a quiet laugh.

Those who’ve come to know Buirski over the past two decades might argue he knows a lot about getting better — more specifically about making the GSPP at the University of Denver better. Buirski, who will step down from the dean’s post at DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP) in August 2012, has overseen a long trail of advancements in his time as dean.

Peter Buirski will step down as dean of DU's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in August 2012.

His first footprint is perhaps one of his deepest. When he first started at DU in 1991, the GSPP didn’t exist. Instead, it was the School of Professional Psychology. He worked with the administration and the board to give it independent graduate school status. He was successful and GSPP was born in 1993.

During Buirski’s tenure, GSPP added three new master’s programs: forensic psychology, international disaster psychology and sport and performance psychology. Buirski also helped create an American Psychological Association-approved internship program — about a third of all students get placed in these internships each year. The school is now two and half times larger today than in 1991 and moved from Quonset huts at Gaylord and Iliff (today, it’s a parking lot) to the Ammi Hyde building, which underwent a major renovation in 2010. The PsyD program recently earned the American Psychological Association’s stamp of reaccreditation through 2018.

His colleagues appreciate his work, too.

“Whether making GSPP baby-friendly, or individualizing attention and decision-making for faculty, staff, and students, or allowing everyone to find their own pace and path toward lifelong learning, Peter’s focus on relationships has made GSPP a rewarding place to work,” says Michael Karson, an associate professor at GSPP. “Peter stimulates other people’s good ideas, humor and inclusive excellence by cultivating these things in himself.”

Buirski is quick to share credit for accomplishments.

“I suppose I’ve had a long and pretty successful career here, but a lot has to do with collaboration with faculty, staff and administration,” he says. “I’ve worked with Tracie Kruse [assistant dean] for 16 or 17 years, and we’ve been great teammates. Her help has been invaluable.”

Buirski, who’ll remain at DU as a part-time clinical professor, says he didn’t foresee holding the dean’s position for as long as he did.

“The faculty and administration have kept me around,” he says. “I’m getting older and someone with a fresh set of eyes would be able to take the school to the next level.”

Buirski says he believes GSPP is in a “position of strength” and that makes it “a good time for a change.”

During his tenure as dean, Buirski taught the same load as other professors but he admits the added responsibilities of the dean’s post have gotten more demanding.

“I’ll go from being more than full time to half time and that’ll give me time to pursue other interests,” Buirski says.

One of those interests is serving on the board of a local nonprofit called the Curious Theatre.

“I’ve been very interested in community theater and off-Broadway productions for a long time, and this theater is a great place to see exciting new works with fine actors and directors,” he says.

He does confess that he’ll miss having input on major decisions.

“I feel like I’ve been able to make some difficult decisions and I’ll miss involvement with the other deans, the provost and the chancellor,” he says.

Buirski says he doesn’t know how long he’ll remain at DU.

“It’s hard to say. I suppose as long as the new dean and the faculty want me, and I can still find my way to the school, I’ll be here,” he says with a hearty laugh.


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