It’s 9 a.m., and the library is quiet, as libraries usually are, when Dr. Robert Burchard, professor emeritus of biological sciences, sits down to discuss his experience at UMBC and the reason he’s giving back to the place that’s been a second home to him for more than 40 years.
In January of 1967, just a few short months after UMBC opened its doors, Dr. Burchard joined the faculty of the biological sciences department. He was young and fresh off a stint as a member of the Peace Corps in Nigeria. From one adventure to another, Dr. Burchard discovered himself among the pioneering few who would lay the foundation for UMBC’s future.
“I felt I was part of a new and vibrant community,” says Dr. Burchard of those early years. “There was a sense that we were all a part of a pioneering educational experience.” It’s clear in talking to Burchard that he himself still brims with excitement at learning, and his enthusiasm extends well beyond the bounds of his own discipline. In fact, it’s led him to be an avid supporter of the arts at UMBC and the Albin O. Kuhn Library.
“I’m part of a university community,” says Dr. Burchard. “We’re here not only to further our own academic interests, but to broaden our horizons. There’s pleasure in learning something new. I would like to think that all our faculty are renaissance scholars.”
But Dr. Burchard is far more than a mere audience member or library card holder. He’s also giving back to these programs through his financial support. Each year, his gifts to the UMBC Annual Fund help support the arts and he’s also established a Charitable Remainder Unitrust that will aid in expanding the library’s collections. The trust, a planned gift, was an excellent way for Dr. Burchard to increase the level and impact of his support while also establishing a source of income for himself. The trust, which will take effect upon his passing, is a lasting legacy that will impact students and the university community for years to come.
“I grew up in an environment where you give when you can,” says Dr. Burchard. “I wanted to give back to an institution that has supported me.”