Paul J. Burgett, senior presidential advisor, University dean, and friend to thousands of University of Rochester students, graduates, staff, and the Rochester community, is redefining his high-profile role to allow more time for emerging new interests and travel.
Burgett, who will retain his titles of vice president, senior advisor to the president, and University dean, will step down from his role as general secretary as of July 1 and will retain the flexibility to continue supporting the University and contributing to important University decisions and initiatives.
"It is rare that one individual can serve the all-encompassing demands of a major University like ours while building so many personal relationships and bonds of trust as Paul Burgett has," said University President Joel Seligman. "He is and will continue to be my closest advisor for a variety of issues, including the University's relationship with the Greater Rochester community. Paul is not retiring but cutting back his overall commitment to focus on our campus and our neighbors by giving up the role he played with our board."
Seligman intends to recommend to the University Board of Trustees that Lamar Murphy, his chief of staff, succeed Burgett as general secretary to the Board of Trustees, one of Burgett's key responsibilities.
"The University of Rochester educated me and then turned me loose 30 years ago to participate on its behalf as an academic leader and teacher. To service my alma mater in these roles and, further, to participate in the life of the Rochester community as a contributing citizen has enabled a rich and satisfying life. I am honored by the President's confidence in me and am excited to be able to continue my professional life here in a flexible way that allows time for other interests," said Burgett.
Burgett is well-known for his gregarious nature and enthusiasm as well as for his intelligence, wisdom, and judgment, which continue to be essential to his many contributions throughout the University. Burgett earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University's Eastman School of Music. His doctoral dissertation treated the aesthetics of the music of Black Americans, a subject that continues to occupy him as a teacher and scholar.
Some of his earlier professional appointments include Eastman School dean of students (1981-88), vice president and University Dean of Students (1988-2001), assistant professor of music at Nazareth College of Rochester (1976-1981), executive director of the Hochstein Memorial Music School (1970-1972), and music teacher in the Greece (N.Y.) Central School District (1973-1977).
He has taught music throughout his academic career: first as a lecturer and then as an assistant professor, and associate and professor of music (adjunct) in the College Department of Music at the University.
In June 2001, Burgett assumed the role of vice president and general secretary in the administration of President Thomas Jackson. "Decades of alumni, from all academic divisions, know 'Dean Burgett,' and will be delighted to have any and all opportunities to visit with him again," Jackson said at the time. Today, Burgett prizes that title and relationship with students as his most important.
His contributions to the greater Rochester community have been varied and diverse, including as former chair of the Board of Trustees of the Strong Museum; former chair of Rochester's Zoning Board of Appeals; and service on the boards of directors of the Genesee Country Village and Museum, the Hillside Family of Agencies, the Arts and Cultural Council of Rochester, the YMCA, the United Way, the Urban League, and the Hochstein Memorial Music School. Burgett currently serves on the International Advisory Board of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, the Mt. Hope Family Center Advisory Board, and the Rochester Rotary Club Board.