Coming from an undergraduate background that included playing field hockey and running track and field, Barbara J. Burger ’83 has a deep appreciation for the faculty support and well-rounded education she received at Rochester. To ensure future generations of students have similar experiences, Burger has committed $1 million to the University to support both academics and athletics.
Burger’s gift will be used to create the Barbara J. Burger Endowed Scholarship in the Sciences, which will support one or more undergraduates each year who are pursuing degrees in biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, or physics. Her commitment will additionally support two endowed professorships in the chemistry department in the names of Richard S. Eisenberg, the Tracy Hyde Harris Professor of Chemistry, and Professor Emeritus Andrew S. Kende. It will also support the Timothy G. Hale Endowment for Competitive Excellence in Athletics, which benefits the University’s cross country and track and field programs.
“Barbara Burger clearly shares the University’s commitment to developing students both in and out of the classroom,” said Joanna B. Olmsted, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. “Her generosity will make a difference for generations to come.” In addition to her recent philanthropy, Burger has shown longtime commitment to the University as a Charter Member of the George Eastman Circle.
Since graduating from Rochester, Burger earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at Berkeley. She is currently a vice president at Chevron Corporation. Burger believes she gained many of the tools to build her successful career while working in the chemistry labs of Rochester professors Richard Eisenberg and Douglas Turner.
One of Burger’s professors left a particularly lasting impression, when she arrived 90 minutes late to her final exam. Rather than sticking to the rules, when the professor handed her the test paper, he told her to do what she could and promised to give her back the time she had lost. Throughout the years, moments like these have stayed with Burger who is still in touch with some faculty and continues to visit the campus.
“It’s like I never left,” she said. “And I now want to make sure other students have the same opportunities as I did.”
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