Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the University Event Complex and Conferences Mark Bourassa (center) works with students in the campus mailroom. Photo by Alyssa Eby
Bluffton University students interact with professors on a daily basis, and they regularly spot of President James Harder, yet the majority of students aren’t aware of the important staff behind the scenes who keep the campus running. From Admissions to the bookstore and Buildings and Grounds, this campus would not be able to function without many key individuals. It’s possible to attend Bluffton for all four years and never interact with some of these friendly, approachable people who have served this campus and community in ways that embody the university’s enduring values of discovery, community, respect and service. This is the third in a series of profiles on some of Bluffton University’s unsung heroes.
By Alyssa Eby
Mark Bourassa began working at Bluffton in May 1990, and since then his journey to his current role is one that’s carried him through multiple departments.
He wears numerous hats across campus these days. He is the assistant dean of students and director of the University Event Complex and Conferences, both of which cover a wide range of responsibilities. He supports student life, providing oversight to all of the functional areas within the facilities, information services, mail services, building programing, student involvement, orientation, liaison for the bookstore and dining services, fitness center and conference event services are among his many responsibilities and overseeing duties. Yes. That’s a lot.
Bourassa ended up in the area by working in Lima before getting laid off and once again looking for a job. He knew he was looking to attend graduate school and hoped to work for a big food company in marketing research. The timing of his layoff was not conducive with getting into school for the following fall.
His closest previous connection to Bluffton University was that his wife worked in Bluffton, but in looking for something to occupy his time for a year before going back to school, he came across an ad for an admissions counselor. Seeing Admissions as close to sales of some sort, he applied and landed the job in admissions.
After having everything in order to attend Purdue, Bourassa told Admissions he was leaving, and the next day his boss came into his office with a list of reasons of why he shouldn’t leave. It was mentioned that he may be good at Student Affairs work, and Bourassa became very intrigued. He then spent the afternoon and next couple days looking into the possibility and talking with Bowling Green State University about their interns on campus.
In the span of 72 hours, Bourassa and his wife changed plans once again. He then spent another year in Admissions, enrolled in BGSU and got an assistantship at Bluffton, was a hall director of Hirschy Annex for two years and advised Marbeck Center Board. After finishing the BGSU program he worked in financial aid for two years with the student work program. It wasn’t until after working with financial aid did Bourassa begin his role in Marbeck that he has remained in for 20 years this year.
Bourassa says working with students is the most rewarding part of his work at Bluffton.
“For me, it’s very much about the relationships I’ve developed with students over the years and it’s just so much fun to have that kind of interaction and help students with the growth and development stages during these college years,” Bourassa said.
Community is Bourassa’s favorite core value. He said he not only sees how it’s rubbed off on him after being a part of Bluffton University for so long—it’s what’s kept him on campus for the last 26 years.
“The sense of community is so ingrained in how we work and interact with each other,” Bourassa said. “It also gets to the relationship piece and building any relationship within this community.”
Read about other unsung heroes of Bluffton University featured in this series: