Howard J. Burnett

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Howard J. Burnett
Howard Burnett.jpg
Tenth President of
Washington & Jefferson College
In office
July 1, 1970 – June 30, 1998
Preceded by Boyd Crumrine Patterson
Succeeded by Brian C. Mitchell
Personal details
Born Howard Jerome Burnett
(1929-10-14) October 14, 1929 (age 88)
Holyoke, Massachusetts
Alma mater Amherst College
Oxford University
New York University
Profession academic

Howard Jerome Burnett is a former president of Washington & Jefferson College.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Burnett, a native of Holyoke, Massachusetts, earned a B.A. degree in political science from Amherst College in 1952; he earned magna cum laude honors and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[1] As a Rhodes Scholar, he studied at Oxford University, earning B.A. and M.A. degrees in philosophy, politics, and economics. Burnett earned his Ph.D. in government and international relations from New York University in 1965.[1]

Prior to entering academia, Burnett gained experience in business and served in the military.[1] Burnett was an assistant professor of government and assistant to the president at Corning Community College from 1962 through 1964.[1] He served as president of the College Center of the Finger Lakes from 1964 through 1970.[1] He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Ithaca College 1965.[1]

Burnett took office as president of Washington & Jefferson College on July 1, 1970; he was officially inaugurated on April 3, 1971.[1] During that year, W&J admitted its first female students, hired its first female faculty members, and hired a woman to be Associate Dean of Student Personnel.[1] The school also adopted a new academic calendar to include intersession.[1]

To celebrate the bicentennial of W&J's founding, Burnett spearheaded the "Bicentennial Development Program," which resulted in the construction of three new buildings on campus: the Dieter-Porter Life Science Building, the Olin Fine Arts Center, and the Rossin Campus Center.[1] During Burnett's tenure, the college acquired and renovated the W & J Alumni House, restored and renovated Thompson Memorial and McMillan Halls, added several residence facilities, and opened the Student Resource Center.[1] The college expanded its academic programs to include the Entrepreneurial Studies Program, the Freshman Forum, and cooperative international education programs with institutions in England, Colombia and Russia, and student enrollment grew from 830 in 1970 to 1,100 in 1998.[1] Burnett retired as president on June 30, 1998.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Barbara Ransohoff, sister of producer Martin Ransohoff.[2] They has one son, Mark, and two daughters, Lee Berman and Susan Petito.[3] The Howard J. Burnett Center at Washington & Jefferson is named after him.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Howard Jerome Burnett (1970-1998)". U. Grant Miller Library Digital Archives. Washington & Jefferson College. 2003-09-04. 
  2. ^ New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths Ransohoff, Babette" December 7, 2000
  3. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "OBITUARIES: Barbara R. Burnett, wife of Dr. Howard J. Burnett, president of Washington & Jefferson College, died of heart failure Wednesday in - Sarasota, Fla." March 15, 1991 | "Mrs. Burnett, 60, of Washington, Washington County, graduated in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in political science from Mount Holyoke College. She worked as a sales clerk for B.H. Blackwell's in Oxford, England, in 1953 and 1954. In the 1960s, she was the circulation manager for the Finger Lakes Chronicle magazine in Corning, N.Y. Mrs. Burnett moved to Washington in July 1970, when her husband was named president of Washington lit Jefferson College....In addition to her husband, Mrs. Burnett is survived by two daughters, Lee Berman of Stamford, Conn., and Susan Petito of New York City; a son, Mark of Lexington, Mass.; three grandchildren; her mother, Babette Ransohoff of Stamford; and two brothers, Jack and Martin Ransohoff....Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in First Presbyterian Church of Washington."
  4. ^ "W&J:Howard J Burnett Center". Washington & Jefferson College. Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Boyd Crumrine Patterson
President of Washington and Jefferson College
Succeeded by
Brian C. Mitchell