In Memoriam: Dan Burck
"Dan was a personal friend of mine. I worked with him for over 25 years at UT and saw firsthand what a tremendously gifted and generous person he was," said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "Dan was one of those rare people who understood both the how and why of higher education. He knew administration and management better than most, but he also appreciated the great value that lies in academic learning, especially historical study. His combination of business acumen and compassion made him one of UT’s most trusted advocates."
R. D. (Dan) Burck was born in 1933. He graduated in 1956 from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in business and administration. From 1955 to 1984 he worked for the Getty Oil Company, working his way up to senior management positions across the company’s global holdings, including being the founding director of America’s first cable sports network, ESPN.
In 1988, he joined the University of Texas System, serving as vice chancellor for business affairs. He became executive vice chancellor in 1992. Burck was instrumental in the creation of the University of Texas Investment Management Company in 1996, the nation’s first nonprofit investment corporation at a public university, which was responsible for managing the system’s endowment and operating funds.
In 2000 Burck was named chancellor of the UT System. During his tenure he presided over a period of growth—student enrollment went from 153,000 to over 170,000 across campuses and research expenditures passed $1 billion. Burck successfully lobbied Wall Street firms to secure a Triple-A rating for UT System bonds, and he effectively advocated for regulatory relief at the Texas state capitol. He also oversaw the establishment of distance learning initiatives, as well as the creation of an office of community relations to better manage outreach to minority communities in Texas.
Current UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven released a statement that UT had "lost a champion of education and the truest of friends." McRaven praised Burck as someone who served the UT System with great distinction during a period of significant growth, both in size and reputation: "He will be greatly missed by so many, but his legacy will forever be felt by the people of Texas."
After retiring as chancellor in 2002, Burck remained active in various philanthropic and business consulting roles, as well as becoming a true friend and supporter of the Briscoe Center. He was a founding advisor of the center’s Campaign to Make History, a member of the center’s advisory council, and, along with his beloved wife Penny, a chair of the center’s annual fund.
"When it came to supporting the center, Dan led by example, generously donating his time and money to the cause of history," Carleton said. "I will truly miss his friendship, wisdom, and sincere enthusiasm for our work."
Burck participated in the Shirley Bird Perry University of Texas Oral History Project, which significantly expanded the university’s archives by recording the viewpoints and perspectives of those who have been centrally involved in its development. Over a number of years, university presidents and vice presidents, distinguished faculty, longtime administrators, staff members, active alumni, and numerous regents offered candid and detailed interviews that captured both their personal experiences at UT and the wider context of the university’s history. The audio and videotapes of the interviews, as well as transcripts, are available in the University Archives at the Briscoe Center.