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In Memory of Dr. Ron Burgher

By Rebekah Skeens
On November 7, 2018

Dr. Burgher will be deeply missed by the Concord community.
Photo Courtesy of Ron Burgher

Dr. Ronald Burgher, former professor at Concord University, passed away Monday, Oct. 22. He leaves behind a legacy of dedication to the university and a passion for inspiring students to learn and grow in the field of communications.

Dr. Burgher began his time at Concord in 1972 coaching the campus debate team. Not only did he teach Fundamentals of Speech, but he educated students in a variety of communications classes, including Persuasion and Argumentation and Debate. On top of teaching several classes, Burgher dedicated time to student organizations as an advisor. 

To name a few of the many organizations he took part in, Burgher served on the Academic Affairs Council and was an advisor to the Student Government Association and the Concordian Newspaper. During his time on campus, he also served as the Chair of the Division of Fine Arts. In 2003, he retired. 

Concord alumnus and former student of Burgher Tom Bone shares, There was no room for 'B.S.' in Burgher’s world. You found that out quickly enough. Though his teaching style was nonconformist, it accomplished his goal – to get people to think honestly, deeply, for themselves.”

During his lectures, he would not let students repeat others’ answers just to have a response. He made them justify their answer and the reasoning behind why they felt that way. This made students think and become more involved in his class. Instead of sitting in the back and not paying attention, which would seemingly sound possible with a class of a hundred, Burgher insisted students participate and give explanations to their answers.

Other former students of Burgher have similar feelings – that Burgher simply pushed them to the best of their ability. He was not the type of professor to let anything slide. He wanted a result which he knew had been done to the best of their ability. After students had been in a class of Burgher's or had been around him for a while, they knew his expectations and knew he would not expect anything less.

Concord alum and Princeton Times Editor and General Manager Tammie Toler was part of the “Burgher Bunch” while serving as a staff member and copy editor for the Concordian. During a semester when Dr. Burgher had been diagnosed with cancer, Toler and other staff members wanted to give tribute to Burgher by being as creative as possible. Since a high sense of creativity was a characteristic Burgher constantly looked for, it only seemed fitting. So, in his honor, they created the “Burgher Bunch,” based off the classic show, “The Brady Bunch”.

While Toler remembers being part of his newspaper staff, she also has fond memories of an introductory speech class with Burgher. “One of the first times I saw Dr. Ron Burgher, he was hurling a saucer against a brick wall,” she states.

Toler would never have believed the man hurling saucers across a stage would then become a great mentor and friend of hers in the future.

He was not the average professor who passed students along; instead, he pushed students towards new ways of thinking. Purposefully, he put students into difficult situations and wanted them to find a way out on their own. He crafted his lectures in a way that led students to learn and become critical thinkers.

Lindsey Akers, communication arts professor, shares how impactful Burgher was to those who encountered him. “Dr. Burgher was like a father to so many of us. He was more than just a professor. He took the time to learn our strengths and weaknesses and motivated us with that knowledge.”

Akers then explains how Burgher didn’t just hand out compliments, so when he did give one, the student knew it was well earned. When he felt one had done well, he would say so, but he also did not shy from doling out constructive criticism. Because of this, he shaped many students’ lives throughout his career, and will continue to shape the lives of his students now that he has passed.

Lindsey Akers states, “He touched so many lives and all of us that were taught by Dr. Burgher are better because of it.”

In only a short sentence, she speaks for the Concord Community and those who have encountered and have been influenced by him throughout their lives. He was not just a professor of communication arts, but a professor who was determined to change lives, and lives he has surely changed.

In the November 8 physical edition, it was stated that Tammie Toler is a writer for the Princeton Times. This has been corrected to Editor and General Manager of the Princeton Times.

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