David Burcham, Loyola Marymount University’s first lay president, has announced that he will resign at the end of the school year next May.
The 63-year-old former Long Beach public school teacher and law school professor became the 15th president of the Jesuit university in October of 2010, succeeding Jesuit Father Robert Lawton. Burcham had served as LMU’s provost and executive vice president as well as dean of Loyola Law School and constitutional law professor. When he leaves office on May 31, 2015, he’ll have spent 24 years at both.
“My years as president have been a highlight to my professional life, and I thank each of you for your commitment to LMU and its mission, and for carrying on the work of this noble profession,” he wrote in a letter to the university community. “We have much to accomplish this year, and I look forward to our efforts together as we strive to continually improve our university.”
Burcham oversaw the construction of a science building to open this spring, the completion of the $400 million “Right Place, Right Time: The Campaign for LMU” fundraising campaign, and the launch of a $100 million scholarship initiative to increase student financial aid. The Westchester university has been able to keep tuition increases below national averages during his tenure.
Kathleen Aikenhead, chair of LMU’s Board of Trustees, praised the president for these accomplishments and more, saying the board reluctantly accepted his decision to step down.
“President Burcham has been an exceptional leader for LMU,” Aikenhead pointed out. “On a personal level, many of you have gotten to know David Burcham and have witnessed firsthand the qualities that motivate him to bring out the best in all of us. He is a man of integrity and fairness, and he is always true to his values. No matter what, he places what’s best for the university above all else.”
After he became the university’s president, the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister told The Tidings (March 11, 2011) that he got a bedrock sense of social activism from his mother, Esther, and an inquiring intellect from his father, H. David Burcham. “He was a good role model for me in terms of understanding that you don’t have to assassinate your brain to be a person of faith,” he said of his father.
Burcham also observed about LMU, “I think an institution like us has a special role to play to equip our graduates with intellectual and spiritual baggage to assist them in making those choices and making their way into society at large. The best we can do is help students integrate within themselves their intellectual dimension, their spiritual dimension, their psychological dimension.”
After taking a year off to be with his family, Burcham said he would decide about going back to teach law or pursue other opportunities.