In Memoriam: Barbara Burch

Barbara BurchBarbara Burch, AACTE past president and provost emeritus at Western Kentucky University (WKU), passed away on January 5 at the age of 81.

Barbara held leadership roles in many national education organizations including AACTE and the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education. In 2014, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities created the Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement in honor of her “extraordinary national leadership in the design, creation, and ongoing development of the American Democracy Project.”

“Barbara was a remarkable and dedicated advocate for AACTE and for all of educator preparation,” said David Imig, senior fellow at the Stanford Carnegie Foundation and AACTE president emeritus. “She always expected the very best of her colleagues and the AACTE leadership. She was generous in her praise of others and will long be remembered for her great respect for the entire AACTE family.”

Barbara earned a bachelor’s degree in English from WKU in 1959 before completing master’s and doctoral degrees at Indiana University. She returned to her alma mater in 1996 as the vice president of academic affairs. Provost was added to her title in 1998 and she held those positions until 2010 when she focused her attention on the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, civic engagement, internationalization and research. Barbara also spent three years as the faculty representative to the WKU Board of Regents and recently chaired the WKU Sisterhood, a philanthropic organization that provides funding for innovative programs, and is the group’s current Volunteer of the Year.

“The WKU family has lost a great academic leader and we share our condolences with the Burch family,” said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni. “She will be remembered for spearheading many of the advancements on the Hill, such as the creation of the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach, her role in the establishment of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program and honoring the memory of her daughter with the creation of the Kelly M. Burch Institute for Transformative Practices in Higher Education. She also will be remembered for the hundreds of students she mentored.”

Corinne M. Murphy, dean of the WKU College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, shared similar sentiments: “Dr. Burch’s influence on the national higher education landscape will live on for years to come. Personally, I enjoyed our conversations around stewardship of place and women in higher education leadership.”

In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to the Kelly M. Burch Institute for Transformative Practices in Higher Education, c/o WKU Foundation, 1906 College Heights Blvd., Bowling Green, Kentucky, 42101. Visit the Barbara G. Burch tribute page at and watch the “Remembering Barbara Burch video.”


Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE