It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Dr. Barbara Burch, former Dean of Fresno State’s School of Education and Human Development and Provost Emeritus of Western Kentucky University (WKU). Burch died at the age of 81 early in the morning on Sunday, January 5.
Burch was always driven toward education. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from WKU and later attended Indiana University where she received her master’s degree and a doctorate in education.
In 1989, Fresno State was fortunate to have Burch begin her service as Dean of the School of Education and Human Development. Interim Dean Alamillo never met Dr. Burch but heard many positive reactions about her time here in Kremen. She was particularly impressed that she was the first woman dean in Kremen. Alamillo referred to her as a “trailblazer.”
“Dean Barbara Burch was a dynamo. In her first year, she hired one of the largest cohorts of School of Education and Human Development faculty in the history of the school, and many made Fresno State their longtime professional home. She served as a role model for a number of the faculty, especially the females. Her ground-breaking contributions to our school are greatly appreciated,” said Dr. Carol Fry Bohlin, Professor and Chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
During Burch’s seven years as Dean, her accomplishments were many.
“She anticipated the coming technology revolution and saw the need for a new Education building and began planning for it during her tenure. The building opened in 1994 and at the time was the most technologically advanced building in the CSU system,” said Dr. Jack Benninga, Professor Emeritus, Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
“Barbara Burch was an outstanding Dean, who had a vision for the future of the School of Education. Thanks to her leadership, the school planned and completed the construction of the building we have today. She was a tireless worker who spent endless nights and weeks in the building. She was a true leader and example. I owe her greatly for her guidance and support,” said Otto Benavides, Associate Professor Emeritus & past Director of the Instructional Technology and Resource Center, Kremen School of Education and Human Development.
During the construction of the Education building, she worked closely with Dr. Robert Monke, who served as Associate Dean during her tenure.
“Barbara was an intelligent, knowledgable and an energetic individual who started work at her desk the day she arrived in Fresno. She consistently strived to promote the profession and was responsible for many innovative ways to include teacher education and teaching in general. Barbara was respected by her peers and she was not afraid to take a stand and promote innovative approaches to educational administrations and educational policy. At the same time, she was also a very caring, supportive, and warm individual,” said Dr. Robert Monke, former Associate Dean and Interim Dean, Kremen School of Education and Human Development.
In 1996, Burch returned to her hometown of Kentucky to serve as the Vice President of Academic Affairs for WKU. In just two years she was appointed Provost and served as Provost until 2010. During her time at WKU, she served as president of AACTE from 1996-97 and in 2007 received the AASCU William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement. At WKU she focused her attention on the doctoral program in educational leadership along with civic engagement and internationalization and research.
Later in 2014, the AASCU established The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement in honor of her “extraordinary national leadership in design, creation, and development of the American Democracy Project.”
Funeral services were held from January 8 – 9 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.