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H.E. (Gene) and Susanne Burns, Distinguished Service

            H.E. (Gene) and Susanne (Sue) Burns could be synonymous with the word service at Clarion University. Since they became involved with Clarion University in the 1960s they have provided time, expertise, and financial support to their adopted institution.

They are among seven individuals who will be honored with a Clarion University Alumni Association Distinguished Award on Friday, October 3, during a banquet in 6 p.m. in the Gemmell Student Complex Multi-Purpose Room. A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Gemmell Student Complex Rotunda.

            RSVP for the banquet at due by Sept. 21 to or telephone (814) 393-1784. The cost is $40 per person. Checks should be made payable to the Clarion University Foundation, Inc., and mailed to Clarion University Foundation, Inc., 840 Wood St., Clarion, Pa. 16214. Those attending are asked to indicate any food allergies and the honoree for whom they are attending.

            Clarion University – Venango campus will hold a distinguished alumni reception on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. in the Robert W. Rhoades Center.

            Being honored are: Distinguished Alumni – Edward Bauer (’70); Distinguished Faculty – Dr. Gail (Fulton ’66) Grejda; Distinguished Achievement – Brigadier General Peter Talleri (’79); Distinguished Volunteer – Sheryl Riesmyer; and Venango Campus Distinguished Alumna – Rhonda Steigerwald (’75).

            In addition a special presentation of the President’s Medallion will be made to the Honorable Fred C. McIlhattan (’70) in acknowledgement of his 40 years of public service.

Neither Gene or Sue are Clarion graduates, but Gene’s father, Henry G. Burns (’36) graduated from Clarion State Teacher’s College and Gene’s maternal grandmother, Edith Summerville Myers (1906) graduated from Clarion Normal School.

            “The thrust of our family has always been education,” said Gene, who first was involved with Clarion through athletics. “I got involved with the Quarterback Club, which raises money for sports scholarship programs, in its infancy. A number of business people and individuals participated in this project. I was also involved with the wrestling Pin Club and the Boosters dinner that was held for the wrestlers.”

            The scope of their service expanded from there.

            Gene served on the College of Business Advisory Committee and the search committee to find a dean of the College of Business. He served as co-chair of the Advance Clarion Challenge for the 80’s Capital Campaign.

            Sue is currently a member of the Clarion University Council of Trustees (appointed in 1997) and serves as the secretary for PACT, an organization composed of all 14 members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. She served on the presidential search committee, which resulted in the hiring of the current Clarion University President, Joseph Grunenwald. Sue has been a member of the Clarion University Foundation Board of Directors since 1988 and has played an active role in community campaigns in support of Clarion University.

            Together they served as the co-chairs for the Clarion University Investing in Futures Capital Campaign Steering Committee, which raised over $11 million for Clarion University.

Their support of Clarion University students is reflected in the family of Henry G. Burns establishing the Henry G. Burns Center for Finance and Insurance in Clarion University’s College of Business, and establishing an endowed scholarship in memory of Henry G. Burns for high achieving students in finance, insurance, and real estate and support of student athletes participating in golf programs.

            In 1998, the Henry G. Burns Family was honored by PASHEE with an Eberly Award for Philanthropy, presented to an individual, family, corporation, foundation, or organization that has demonstrated exceptional generosity and civic responsibility in providing financial support and leadership to Pennsylvania public higher education.

            “Clarion is a part of our life,” said Sue. “The university is important to the whole area by giving so many young people a chance to get an education, especially first generation college students. I am proud of the caliber of the university and the success of its graduates. We are happy to do whatever we can to help the university and I will promote it where I go.”

            “Clarion University improves our community, from the faculty involvement, cultural programs and sports activities,” said Gene. “We are honored to be recognized by the Alumni Association.”



9/3/2008 3:32 PM

H. E. (Gene) and Susanne Burns, Distinguished Service