Dorothy Johnson Burkhardt Supported Language Teaching, Technology

Multi-Lingual Scholar, Life Trustee of Knox College

January 28, 2014

Dorothy Johnson Burkhardt, a 1939 Knox College graduate, multi-lingual scholar, Life Trustee of Knox, and long-time philanthropist, has died at the age of 96 at her home in Muncie, Indiana.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Joseph and Clara Johnson, she majored in French and psychology at Knox and was a member of the Phi Mu sorority. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Dorothy Johnson BurkhardtShe was awarded an International Exchange Fellowship to the University of Toulouse, France, but the coming of the Second World War prevented her from going to Europe. She married Richard W. Burkhardt, a Knox classmate, on June 18, 1941 in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin.

After years in the professoriate at Syracuse University, she and Richard moved to Muncie in 1952 with their three children when Richard was appointed Dean of Faculty at Ball State University. She earned a master's degree from Ball State and taught French, Spanish and Russian there for 27 years. In 2002, she was awarded the Palmes Academiques by the French government recognizing her efforts to promote cross-cultural learning between France and the United States.

Mrs. Burkhardt served as an Alumni Trustee of Knox from 1976 to 1979 and general trustee from 1982 to 1990, when she was named a Life Trustee.

As members of the College's Scripps Society, recognizing donors whose tremendous lifetime generosity has remarkably altered the course of the College, the Burkhardts have provided significant support for both students and faculty in languages, language technology, and history.

"Dorothy and Richard Burkhardt have had a lifelong commitment to education. Thanks to their work as educators, they understood the needs of an institution like Knox, both from the faculty and student perspective, and their philanthropic contributions to Knox reflected this understanding. Knox is a stronger institution because of their generous support, and their legacy will be felt by generations of Knox students and faculty," said President Teresa Amott.

Together, the Burkhardts have established two professorships at Knox: the Burkhardt Distinguished Chair in Modern Languages and the Burkhardt Distinguished Chair in History. Gifts from the Burkhardts have also created advanced facilities for teaching languages, such as the Dorothy Johnson Burkhardt and Richard Burkhardt Laboratory for the Modern Languages, dedicated in 2010. Designed specifically for web-based lessons that include audio and video, the lab features spaces and technology that enable small groups of students to work on multi-media projects and engage in active, collaborative learning.

The Burkhardts also established two funds to support campus lectures by scholars and faculty development in the fields of language and history. The Joseph and Clara H. E. Johnson Fund for Modern Languages was named in honor of Mrs. Burkhardt's parents, and the Edgar S. and Ruth W. Burkhardt Fund for History was named in honor of Mr. Burkhardt's parents.

Mrs. Burkhardt is survived by her husband of seventy-two years, Richard; three children, Jon (Karen) of Potomac MD, Richard Jr. (Jayne) of Urbana IL, and Claire Decker (Wayne) of Tucson AZ; six grandchildren; and eleven great-grandchildren.

Online condolences may be directed to the family at