Adjunct Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Prior to coming to Duke in 1991, Burness was the senior public affairs officer of three major research universities---vice president for university relations at Cornell University, associate chancellor for public affairs at the University of Illinois and deputy to the president for university relations at Stony Brook University.
Among his civic duties, Burness has been particularly active in K-12 education. He was the founding chairman of the Board of Directors of the Durham Communities in Schools dropout prevention program and a director of the Durham Public Education network.
He also headed Duke’s nationally recognized Neighborhood Partnership with 12 neighborhoods near Duke’s campus and seven public schools that serve them. When he retired from his administrative post in 2008, Duke University’s Board of Trustees created the John F. Burness Endowment to support the programs of the Neighborhood Partnership.
Burness is a director of MDC, Inc., a member of Durham's Renaissance Group, and a past director of the United Way of Greater Durham, the Museum of Life and Science and Downtown Durham, Inc.
Burness is a Trustee of his alma mater, Franklin & Marshall College, where he was president of the student government and on the Dean’s List. He has done graduate work at Stony Brook and Boston University, and pursued his doctoral study in higher education management at the University of Maryland.
Burness and his wife, Anne D. Williams, have two children, Evan (’05) and Samuel (Law ’10).
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