Alumni Remember Dr. Burnett

Created: August 24, 2019  |  Last Updated: September 1, 2020  |  Category: ,   |  Tagged:

“The Saturday after finals at the start of Christmas Break in 1978 (my junior year), my three fraternity brothers and I who lived in New Jersey piled into my old Volvo for the trip home for the holidays. I turned the key in the ignition, and nothing happened. The alternator was dead. What were we going to do? Campus was closed for the holidays. We went over to the President’s House, and Dr. Burnett rented us a Lincoln Continental to get home. What a classy and great guy.”

– Richard Pumilia ’80

“I have fond memories of Dr. Burnett. He was very helpful to me when I was as student and my father, Paul, always spoke highly of him.”

– Glenn Paul Nagy ’78

“Dr. Burnett and his wife made you feel safe and part of a family while at W&J. It was the perfect environment to expand knowledge. He will be missed.”

– Christopher Joyce ’83

“Howard J. Burnett was a steady helmsman while navigating new horizons for the College. He cared deeply about the College and the well-being of the individuals making up the institution and considered them family. W&J has lost one of its true champions, but his legacy lives on in the countless lives he touched.”

– Patricia Brletic ’75, Ph.D.


First class of women at W&J

“Dr. Burnett arrived at the college the same time we did. He always supported us— the first women—and encouraged us to strive to achieve.”

— Betsey Hurwitz-Schwab ’74


“I knew Dr. Burnett on three levels: he was the new president when I matriculated to W&J as one of the first coeds in 1970. After I retired from the military in 1994, he hired me as member of the development team which allowed me to come ‘home.’ And upon his retirement in 1998, Howie became a very good friend. We had lunch every month and I would listen to his stories and his memories of his amazing life and pride of all he had accomplished—especially his love for his children and grandchildren. I will miss this remarkable man.”

— Susan Kepler ’74


“What an amazing gift to say you became friends with your college president as he began his presidency at the same time you became one of the first women to be admitted to that college! And that the friendship continued for almost 50 years! He was a friend, mentor and someone that brought great joy to my life each and every time I saw him.”

— Louise Ross ’74



“Without Dr. Burnett’s leadership, W&J would be a very different institution. His steady hand and thoughtful style, especially during the challenging early years of his presidency, made possible the success that followed. He set the standard for a strong, working partnership between the President and the Board of Trustees—an important legacy that endures today.”

— Dr. Keith Ghezzi ’77


“I was always impressed with his quiet leadership, complete dedication to the College, and collegial style with all whom he met. Certainly much was accomplished and significant progress occurred during his tenure as President, and he also remained connected and engaged with W&J throughout the years after his retirement. His continued love for W&J was unquestioned.”

— Charles “Tuck” Nason ’68


“Howard was an excellent leader as our College President. As a member of the Board of Trustees, we worked together during which time he became a true friend as he did with so many other Board members. He is sadly missed.”

— Dr. E. Ronald Salvitti ’59


Read the full article on Dr. Burnett’s impact on W&J.

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