A back arrow

All Articles

Communicating at the highest level

Communicating at the highest level

Michael Dunekacke April 23, 2019

When asked what he’s learned during more than four decades in television and film, Mike Burke answers with, “Patience!” and a laugh.

Burke is the gaffer (head lighting technician) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He’s been doing that for more than 10 years and has worked on numerous films, music videos and television shows during his career. If you’re remotely interested in television or movies, you’ve seen his work, but film wasn’t what he studied at UD.

“In my experience, a lot of what college is about is proving you’re trainable and learning to interact with people,” Burke said. A chemistry major, Burke worked in the New York City film industry in the summers.

burke_current_edit_img.jpg“When it came time to go looking for job interviews, it was busy in the film industry, and I didn’t have to dress up. That was pretty appealing to me,” he said.

Despite the casual attitude, he was always up for a challenge.

“My junior year, my friends and I wanted to throw a Halloween party a lot of people could attend. I learned we could use the ballroom in Kennedy Union, but we’d need to start a student

“We created The Better Communication Club,” Burke said, and more than 450 people showed up to the ballroom that Halloween for a very festive night.

“A week later, I got a notice that the administration wanted to see me. I thought my time at UD was finished. It turned out, they just wanted to know how I managed to get so many people to attend a function at the union.” Burke told them it was all about communication.

“Success in all aspects of life is about how you relate and interact with people. There are a lot of different ways to accomplish the same things, and communicating properly goes a long way. I owe a lot of how I learned to do that to my friends and my time at UD.”