The Mary Burgan Distinguished Service Award honors a faculty member or librarian for distinguished service to the university, a profession, a discipline, or the public. The annual award is intended to recognize service in the same way that other awards recognize distinguished teaching or research. It is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.
Dr. Jon Kay started his career at IU in 2004 as an assistant research scholar of folklore and became associate professor of folklore studies in 2020. He has also served as a professor of practice in folklore studies, as well as curator of folklife and cultural heritage and interim director at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Since 2004, Kay has been director of Traditional Arts Indiana, Indiana’s official statewide folk and traditional arts service agency and a partnership between IU and the Indiana Arts Commission.
Kay has devoted considerable service outside of the university, to his discipline and to the public. His work with Traditional Arts Indiana, Indiana Arts Commission and IU reaches countless Hoosiers and improves quality of life for the entire state. He recently served as a contributor to the new Bloomington campus strategic plan and the new Indiana Arts Commission strategic plan and has worked extensively with the Chin Languages Research Project. Kay has produced a significant amount of material for external and public audiences, including exhibitions, documentary films, short videos, podcasts and writing.
The state folklorists for several states are recent graduates from the Department of Folklore and were mentored by Kay. He is a key member of the Graduate Affairs Committee and Public Practice Committee, which help the success of graduate-level alumni. Kay was instrumental in expanding curriculum offerings and specifically created a practicum course and laboratory course for the public practice concentration. Kay also works closely with and mentors undergraduates who work with Traditional Arts Indiana.