The Burcham Tributes

Photo by Jon Rou

When David W. Burcham came to LMU after leaving his post as dean of Loyola Law School, he displayed his penchant for walking around campus and speaking with people in all walks of university life. When named president, he asked for a university-wide day of service to Los Angeles as part of his inauguration events. It is impossible to picture David W. Burcham apart from the people around him. We asked members of the LMU community to share their thoughts about him and his presidency.—The Editor.

Those of us on the Board of Trustees have had very mixed feelings — sadness to lose David Burcham as our leader, happiness he will be moving on to enjoy his retirement years, and a tremendous sense of pride in all he has accomplished. David has articulated a vision to the Board and the university, and through his strong leadership, he has brought us tremendous achievements, amazing successes, perpetual humor and enduring friendships. Let us always remember and celebrate his lasting legacy, and may peace, blessings and love follow Chris Burcham, his wife, and David as they begin a new chapter of their lives.
Kathleen H. Aikenhead
Chair, Board of Trustees

As an alumnus, I could not have been more proud of LMU under the steadfast leadership of President Dave Burcham. I thank him for extending the many talents, resources and love that exists at LMU to the thousands of young people who struggle to thrive and survive throughout our city. What an incredible blessing for Heart of Los Angeles and many others to be able to serve together with LMU to make L.A. a much better place for our children to live. Continued success to Dave Burcham.
Tony Brown ’92
Executive Director, Heart of Los Angeles

While it takes talent (which Dave has) to be good, it takes passion to be great. Passion is walking the campus and remembering students you haven’t seen in a year. It is playing in the student band during a basketball game. It is taking the time as president to teach a class, especially one for which pizza is ordered. It is caring, deeply, about education for all. Dave, thanks for being great!
Meg Boyle Cain ’79 and Patrick Cain ’79, Member, Board of Regents

Going back to the time when Dave Burcham was provost, one of the first projects he and I worked on was updating the presentation of the university’s mission statement. Throughout his presidency, Dave has been a champion of LMU’s Catholic, Jesuit-Marymount identity and corresponding commitments to academic excellence, whole-person education and faith doing justice. It has been a privilege to serve as Dave’s vice president for Mission and Ministry. Now, as he relinquishes the reins of administration, I pray for him quiet days and peaceful nights.
Bob Caro, S.J.
Vice President, Mission and Ministry

I am thankful for Dave’s leadership. What makes Dave a great leader is his ability to bring out the best in people — he sees our gifts, nurtures those gifts, and then challenges us to use those gifts to benefit our students, the academy and society. I’ve seen the law school thrive because of Dave’s inspiration and vision. And I’ve been able to thrive because of Dave’s friendship and support. Dave’s a big reason why Loyola Law School has been more than just a place to work — it’s home.”
Brietta Clark
Professor, Loyola Law School

BURCHAM’S LEGACY
Please see “The Burcham Years” for more about David W. Burcham’s legacy as president of LMU.

 

 

I still remember the day I learned that Dave Burcham was stepping down as president of Loyola Marymount University. I immediately had mixed feelings. First, I was thrilled for my friend’s retirement and the excitement of beginning of a new chapter in his life. At the same time, I was sad because his departure would be a great loss to LMU. His commitment to technology, diversity and excellence in education is unprecedented. He had a unique ability to reach out to students, faculty and administrators from all walks of life. I met Dave when were both starting out as law students at Loyola Law School. His academic excellence set the bar extremely high for the rest of our classmates. He graduated first in his class. I remember when he became dean of Loyola Law School. I was so happy for Dave. I knew he would do an excellent job. I ran into him several years later when he came out to the Inland Empire for an alumni event. He looked exactly the same as he did when we were students. A few years later, Dave took the time to speak at my enrobement ceremony when I became the first African American justice in the Fourth District Court of Appeal. That same year I attended the ceremonies when he became the first non-Jesuit president of my alma mater, Loyola Marymount University. What a groundbreaking year for both of us! I extend my sincere thanks to Dave for his unwavering service, exemplary leadership and stellar career in education. He started his career as a teacher and ended it as president of LMU. Dave has remained the same kind and humble soul throughout the trajectory of his amazing career. I wish Dave continued success in all of his future endeavors.
Carol D. Codrington ’81, Law ’84
Judge, Fourth District Court of Appeal

Dave Burcham inspired me from the very start of my career as an employee and as a student at Loyola Law School. No matter how busy he was as dean, and, later, as president, Dave always took time to ask about my kids, a recent trip or a class. He deftly draws out the best in people. And his words of encouragement were monumental in my decision to pursue a law degree. Good luck, Dave!”
Brian Costello
Assistant Director, Marketing and Communications
Loyola Law School

Dave Burcham is a man of outstanding character and integrity. He has been a true leader for LMU, and I wish him all the best in his next adventure!”
Nancy Coster
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Accounting
College of Business Administration

Whenever my husband feels a bit put upon by his wife, he usually quotes Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan: “A good man always has to know his limitations.” From my point of view, here are President David Burcham’s limitations: He is a person of the highest integrity; he is in possession of a brilliant legal, intellectual and emotional mind; he is an excellent judge of character, a great teacher and a loyal friend; and he is surely one of the most remarkable presidents this university has ever had.
Theresia de Vroom
Professor, Department of English, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts
Director, Marymount Institute for Faith, Culture and the Arts

We got to know each other first on a few LMU and Loyola Law School joint alumni and recruitment trips to Hawaii, and I was happy to have the company of such a friendly and down-to-earth dean. Later, as executive vice president, he convened an enrollment planning group when the recession hit and we were all uncertain what it would mean for LMU. He collaborated and consulted widely, respecting the expertise and responsibility of each member of the group, then settled on a bold plan of action that none of the rest of us was likely to propose, which proved to be critical to LMU’s ability to weather that storm. Finally, as president, he dusted off his trumpet and sat in with the LMU Pep Band at one basketball game, showing a lack of ego, an instinct for comm-unity and the confidence to pull it off. That’s leadership!
Matt Fissinger
Director, Office of Undergraduate Admission

David’s abilities are well known, but it is his character that draws people to him. If praised, he says the credit belongs to others. If criticized, he takes responsibility, even if someone else is to blame. Loyalty cannot be bought; it can only be earned. David earned it.
Victor Gold
Dean, Loyola Law School

One of my greatest professional pleasures has been working with Dave Burcham for the past seven years. Throughout all that time, he proved himself again and again to be a principled leader of great integrity, steeped in the mission of a premier university and always putting the students first. This is nowhere more apparent than in his steadfast commitment to academic excellence and affordability. Though he will no longer be my president, he will always be my friend.
Joseph Hellige
Executive Vice President and Provost

Dave Burcham is an LMU lifer. I think that’s what I admire most about him. From law school student and law school professor to dean and then president, he’s worked for the greater glory of LMU, not for his own personal gain. As the first non-Catholic to lead a Jesuit university, Dave faced no small amount of prejudice. He dealt with it in the best way possible, with honor, pride and extraordinary grace. He led by example, and we all wanted to follow him.
Amir Hussain
Professor, Department of Theological Studies
Bellarmine College of Lliberal Arts

Dave Burcham embodies the notion of a Lion possibly better than anyone I’ve known at LMU. His directness and passion exemplify the best practices in leadership, particularly in his genuine commitment to the value of interculturalism. His perseverance has narrowed the distance between the bluff and the communities of Los Angeles. For this we owe him a great debt of gratitude. Thank you, Dave, and the very best to you and your family as you begin this next phase in your life.
Garland Kirkpatrick
Associate Professor and Chair, Studio Arts/Department of Art and Art History
College of Communication and Fine Arts

Chris and David, thanks so much for your years of commitment to LMU. Both the law school and the Westchester campus are better for your time with us. More significant is the impact of your presence, leadership and care for the thousands of young people who have matriculated during your tenure. Karen and I can count our two children among those many. We know that they are better people for your influence on the culture of LMU. The years ahead will prove the value of the Burcham years. Thank you for that legacy.
Karen and Joe Knott ’74, Member, Board of Trustees and Past Member, Board of Regents

What a pleasure it has been working with and getting to know Dave Burcham. Despite being the president of a major university, he’s always been approachable; funny, too. I’m going to miss his sense of humor and his leadership. As an LMU alumna and Regent, I thank him for everything he’s done for LMU academically, and for leading the way to establish so many scholarships to keep LMU affordable. Everyone should have access to the same great education I was able to receive, with the help to make that possible. From all of us here at ABC 7 Eyewitness News, I wish Dave Burcham all the best.
Jovana Lara-Brooks ’88
Member, Board of Regents

Ten years ago, I asked Dave to be a keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Being the constitutional law scholar that he is, he thought a fitting topic would be “Current Developments at the U.S. Supreme Court.” The title of the speech gave goose bumps amtoong the attendees. This was not what the academy wanted to hear about: another lawyer talking about a bunch of judges. But Dave delivered his speech with the wit, imagination, humor and professionalism of someone soon to lead a great university. When he finished, the audience rose to its feet and applauded uncontrollably, a rare reaction from a crowd that bores easily.
Walter J. Lack ’70, Law ’73
Member Emeritus, Board of Regents

Dave Burcham has been an extraordinary leader, and we have been incredibly lucky to have him as our law school dean and university president. Dave is special. Of course, he is brilliant and hardworking. But, he is so much more. Dave Burcham is a true friend who always acts with integrity. I hold the David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy. Just call me, ‘Dave.’ I can think of no greater honor.”
Laurie Levenson
David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy
Loyola Law School

I met David in 1981 when he came to work for our law firm after his first year in law school. It was clear even then that he was going to be a superstar. He has now spent the past 25 years serving the law school and university communities as dean, provost and president with consummate intelligence, wisdom, integrity, love and (maybe most important) patience. On top of that, the university has been singularly graced for the last five years with its first First Lady, Chris Burcham. We will miss you both, Dave and Chris, beyond words.
Michael Lightfoot
Past Professor and Adjunct Faculty, Loyola Law School
Member, Loyola Law School Board of Overseers
Past Chair, Board of Regents

President Burcham is the embodiment of humility, so it must have horrified him when I, as the Loyolan editor in 2011, told him the paper wanted to publish an entire special issue about him for his inauguration. He was a great interview, a brilliant leader and a truly formative mentor. President Burcham’s commitment to LMU’s students was the defining aspect of his leadership, and the university is a better place because of it.”
José L. Martinez ’11
Past Editor, Los Angeles Loyolan (February 2010–February 2011)

Dave, thanks for your outstanding leadership of my alma mater. It was fun being at the basketball games with you. You were calm; we were not.
Ann and Mike Mulvihill ’59, Professor Emeritus
Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science
Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times (I actually gave that line to Dickens). How we handle those times makes us who we are today. This may be the end of our LMU relationship, Dave, but I’m very hopeful our friendship will continue for years to come. All the best.
Steve Page ’62, Law ’68
Past Member, Board of Trustees and Board of Regents

Dave inspired our faculty by setting the right priorities: academic challenge; access and affordability for students; inclusive excellence; mission distinctiveness; good stewardship; and integrity. He led by example and really changed the culture here day by day. Because of him we’re more candid with each other, more cooperative, more committed to a common vision and to the magis ideal of continuous improvement than we were before we met him, and I think that will be his real legacy to all of us.”
John Parrish
Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science
Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

It is hard to imagine a family that has demonstrated a greater commitment to the education and formation of Southern California youth than Dave Burcham’s family. Dave continues the proud tradition of his father, who taught math, served as a principal at Long Beach High School and served as the director of Sunday School. Following in his footsteps, Dave has coached football, served as a teacher and administrator in the Long Beach Unified School District, clerked for Justice Byron White, and reshaped our law school as dean. Thanks to Dave and his family, we are better than we were, and I look forward to his next contribution to his family’s profound tradition.”
K.J. Peters
Professor, Department of English
Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

President Burcham accepted his position as president of LMU with the support of his wife, Chris. As a couple they were both committed to LMU. Their marriage and partnership is such an amazing example of the word “commitment.” They are committed to each other, their family, their faith and LMU. I believe that President Burcham has transformed LMU and thus the world through the graduates and students that have been at LMU during his leadership. I have a personal admiration for the president and his commitment through his scholarship and endowment initiatives to “access to all” who want an LMU education. As the chair of the Parent Council and a member of the Board of Regents, I am committed to continue his great work. Thank you, President Burcham, for being “a man for others.”
Julie Rollofson-Teel
Chair, Parent Council
Member, Board of Regents

I remember first meeting Dave and learning that he went to school at and played rugby for our bitter rival, Occidental College. With much pleasure I told him how we beat Oxy my senior year to win the league title. He has never forgiven me. Dave has been a special kind of leader. He gets it — it being that combination of Jesuit spirituality, academic excellence and community service that is uniquely LMU. He has succeeded in incorporating it into the day-to-day business of LMU, student life and alumni engagement. He has made sure that it is the foundation for the campaigns and initiatives he has led, positioning LMU for a bright, promising future. Thank you, Dave, and good luck!
Marco Ruano ’82
Past President, Alumni Association Board of Directors

With gratitude for all he has done for the LMU community, students, faculty, staff and alumni, I will remember President Burcham for: his presence among the students, striving to make higher education accessible for all; the new Life Sciences building; and his support for alumni. He is an educator in the truest sense of the word and has continually shown his commitment to the Jesuit tradition.
Laurie Sherwood ’79
President, Alumni Association Board of Directors

Early in his administration, President Burcham reached out to representatives from communities of religious women at LMU. He asked an amazing and unexpected question: “What are we doing to celebrate and support the work of the Sisters here at LMU? What more can we do?” We responded, first, with some easy-to-implement suggestions, such as adding the photo of the CSJ founder to the wall with those of the Jesuits and Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. These were done, as was the biggie: Would LMU support a CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice to host and give visibility to the CSJ charism in a way similar to that of the Jesuit and RSHM Centers? The CSJ Center, which we consider his very special legacy to the university, is now ending its third year of service to LMU. We are glad for this opportunity to thank President Burcham for all he has done as our president.
Sisters of St. Joseph and LMU’s St. Joseph Center for Reconciliation and Justice

I am proud to call Dave my friend, my colleague and my boss. And I’m very proud of the work that we have done together to raise money for his great passion, student scholarship support. Dave exhibits all the qualities of a great leader — and he does it all while maintaining humility and a sense of humor. There is no one whose team I’d rather be on.
Dennis Slon
Senior Vice President, University Relations

When I mentioned that I am an LMU graduate to one of Dave Burcham’s former colleagues — a man who had argued (and won) several cases before the Supreme Court — his response was, “Dave Burcham would be better at this job than I am. He’s a different kind of smart.’ And then he paused. ‘And you know what? He’s an even better guy.” In the grand human experiment, Dave Burcham is an outlier: His intellect is outmatched only by his humility. And LMU is better for it.
Sean Tierney ’09
Former ASLMU President

President David Burcham will forever be remembered as the “People’s President”! His focus was that anyone, no matter their background, deserved an education. He worked tirelessly because he understood that education with diversity is the only means of success. He will be missed!
Rosemary Turner ’84
Member, Board of Trustees

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