In Memoriam: Remembering President Howard J. Burnett

Created: June 19, 2019  |  Last Updated: November 15, 2021  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

Trustee and alumnus Dr. James Phillips ’54, former W&J President Howard J. Burnett, and current W&J President John C. Knapp pose together during President Knapp’s inauguration.

A letter to the Washington & Jefferson College community from President John C. Knapp

I write to share the sad news that former President Howard Burnett passed away on Sunday. Dr. Burnett’s service as president spanned nearly three decades and left an indelible legacy from which we continue to benefit. It was a personal privilege to know him in his last years.

A mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, at Saint Anne’s Church in Mt. Lebanon (400 Hoodridge Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15234) followed by a lunch at St. Clair Country Club. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Maryann, and children. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting contributions to the Maryann and Howard Burnett Scholarship Fund.

As many of you will remember, Dr. Burnett served W&J from 1970 to 1998, during which time female students were admitted for the first time; the first female faculty members were selected; and the first woman was elected to the Board of Trustees. The college also adopted a new 4-1-4 schedule that introduced a short January term. Dieter-Porter Hall was dedicated in 1981 and Olin Fine Arts Center was completed in 1982. Rossin Campus Center opened in 1995. In addition, W&J acquired the home now used as the Admissions House; renovated Thompson Memorial and McMillan Halls; added several residence facilities; and opened the HUB. Several new programs were launched, including Entrepreneurial Studies. Student enrollment grew from 830 in 1970 to 1,100 in 1998.

We are thankful that Dr. Burnett continued his loyal and supportive relationship with the college for the remainder of his life.



John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor
Washington & Jefferson College