Stephen Burgard, director of Northeastern’s School of Journalism and a talented reporter and editor who was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial team, has passed away.
Following a 26-year career as a newspaper reporter and editor, Burgard joined the Northeastern faculty in 2002 as an associate professor and became a full professor in 2012. He oversaw the maturation of the nationally-respected School of Journalism and played an integral role in the school’s transition into the new College of Arts, Media and Design in 2010.
“I had the pleasure of knowing Steve and working closely with him from the day he arrived at Northeastern,” Bruce Ronkin, interim dean of the College of Arts, Media and Design, wrote Tuesday in an email message to the university community. “He was a vital part of our community, and he will be dearly missed.”
Burgard taught journalism ethics at Northeastern, where he brought his passion for journalism into the classroom. His research focused on the relationship between the press and religion. He authored two books on the subject: Hallowed Ground, one of Amazon.com’s Top 10 Religion Books of 1997, and Faith, Politics and Press In Our Perilous Times in 2010.
“He took the ethics of our craft very seriously,” said associate professor Dan Kennedy, interim director of the School of Journalism. “In the 10 years I have been teaching here, he was a real leader in terms of wanting to push us forward into the digital age as rapidly as possible while at the same time staying true to the ethics and traditions of journalism.”
The Northeastern community also took to Twitter to express its condolences and share fond memories of working with and learning from Burgard. “He was a fantastic prof & really believed in me,” tweeted one alumna. “(He) was a tremendous teacher and a terrific leader for the NU Journalism program,” tweeted another alumnus. Others called him a true inspiration, a mentor, and a friend.
Burgard was as a member of The Los Angeles Times editorial board from 1990 to 2002. He helped lead the paper’s coverage of the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict in 1992, and he was part of the Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 1994 Northbridge earthquake. He also wrote the newspaper’s editorials on politics and religion during the 2000 presidential election and after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In 2011, Burgard spoke with news@Northeastern about finding his calling in journalism in November 1971, when the then 22 year old was an enlisted man on the U.S.S. Little Rock. That month, he was tapped to produce a 10-minute nightly news segment for the ship’s TV system.
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