George Burman is known by many as a retired professional football player. Others know him as a former Whitman dean. Numerous alumni regard him as a favored professor. Those familiar with the EEE program consider Burman the visionary and founder of a program that is now a pillar of the Whitman School.
Burman earned his bachelor’s from Northwestern University while playing on the football team. He went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL and spent off seasons earning an MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
After retiring from the NFL in 1974, he served as assistant dean of the School of Urban and Public Affairs at Carnegie Mellon University before becoming president and turnaround orchestrator of American Gilsonite.
Academia beckoned Burman back. In 1990, he became the 14th dean of Syracuse University’s School of Management. He immediately began working to better allocate funds, enhance curriculum, hire promising professors and re-earn AACSB accreditation.
Burman’s most significant accomplishments as dean include the successful $40-million campaign to fund the School’s University Avenue home and the establishment of the EEE Department.
“We recognized an opportunity for the school to create a brand. There was a sense that venture creation and entrepreneurship were really getting off the ground. The timing was important, because there were not many entrepreneurship programs in business schools,” said Burman.
Twenty years later, the EEE program is consistently ranked among the top in the nation and is one of a few to offer an MBA specialization, a master’s and a Ph.D.—all specifically focused on entrepreneurship.
Burman stepped down as dean in 2003. After a year sabbatical, he rejoined the faculty and chaired the EEE Department from 2007-2013 before fully retiring.
“I am especially grateful to George for getting the school accredited and for the development of the entrepreneurship program,” said Deborah Freund, former SU vice chancellor and provost. “I am sure he will go down as one of the finest deans the School of Management has had.”