St. David’s Foundation announces new CEO

Burger new St David's President

Today, St. David’s Foundation, the largest grantmaking organization that solely impacts Central Texas, announced the successor to Earl Maxwell, who will have served as CEO of St. David’s Foundation for 20 years when he retires at the end of 2019.

In January 2020, St. David’s Foundation will welcome Edward B. Burger, Ph.D. as President and Chief Executive Officer. Burger is currently president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, as well as a professor of mathematics. He joined Southwestern in 2013.

PHOTO: Southwestern University President Edward Burger greets new students in August.

“During his career, President Burger has been an exceptional leader and teacher who has inspired those around him to be more creative, more innovative, and more mindful,” said Peter Pincoffs, Board Chair for St. David’s Foundation.

Southwestern University was the first institution of higher learning in Texas, having been established in 1840. A small, liberal arts university, Southwestern had 1,400 students enrolled in 2018, with 32 percent of those being considered “under-presented”. Forty-five percent of the students who applied were offered admission, and among current students the average SAT score was 1234 and the average ACT was 27. In addition, 34 percent of the students ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school. In 2018, Forbes magazine rated Southwestern as the top undergraduate liberal arts college in Texas, and U.S. News & World Report also ranked it as the top liberal arts college in Texas and among the top 100 in the country.

Pincoffs stated, “Beyond overseeing the creation of one of the nation’s most cutting-edge interconnected and holistic programs within and beyond the classroom inviting students to grow intellectually and personally, Ed raised over $100 million largely to support students with financial need.”

He continued, “Dr. Burger has been a mission-driven leader who will be a strong cultural fit for the Foundation. He’ll be an effective successor to follow the tremendous record of achievement of our current CEO, Earl Maxwell.”

Before joining Southwestern, Burger was a professor of mathematics at Williams College, having initially joined the Williams faculty in 1990. He has delivered over 700 addresses worldwide at venues including Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins as well as at the Smithsonian Institution, Microsoft Corporation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the New York Public Library, and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of over 70 research articles, books, and video series (starring in over 4,000 on-line videos), including the book The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, published by Princeton University Press and translated into over a dozen languages worldwide. His latest book, Making Up Your Mind: Thinking Effectively Through Creative Puzzle-Solving, also published by Princeton University Press, was on several of Amazon’s Hot New Releases lists.

In 2006, Reader’s Digest listed Burger in its annual “100 Best of America” as America’s Best Math Teacher. In 2010, he was named by Baylor University the winner of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching—the largest prize in higher education teaching across all disciplines in the English speaking world. Also in 2010, he starred in a mathematics segment for NBC-TV on the Today Show; that appearance earned him a 2010 Telly Award. The Huffington Post named him one of their 2010 Game Changers: “HuffPost’s Game Changers salutes 100 innovators, visionaries, mavericks, and leaders who are reshaping their fields and changing the world.” In 2012, Microsoft Worldwide Education selected him as one of their “Global Heroes in Education.” In 2013, Burger was inducted as an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. In 2014, Burger was elected to The Philosophical Society of Texas. He is now in his fifth season of his weekly program on thinking and higher education produced by NPR’s Austin affiliate KUT. The series, Higher ED, is available at and on iTunes..

President Burger graduated from Connecticut College in 1985, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude with distinction, in mathematics and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics by The University of Texas at Austin in 1990 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Waterloo in Canada.  In 2013, he was awarded an LL.D. honorary degree by Williams College.

Burger will join St. David’s Foundation in the midst of other changes at the 95-year-old organization, mostly attributed to its tremendous growth. In 2016, the foundation made $54 million in grants, and in 2019 it predicts it will award $82 million in grants to local nonprofits and projects related to healthcare and healthy communities. During Maxwell’s tenure, St. David’s grantmaking capacity has increased tenfold.

Earl Maxwell said, “Ed’s empathy and warmth bring individuals and communities together, and his strategic vision has inspired profound change. His motto at Southwestern, ‘Think, Create, Connect: to make meaning and make a difference’ beautifully captures his accomplishments at the highly regarded university. We are all excited that Ed will be bringing his boundless positive energy and tremendous leadership skills to the Foundation, and guiding our important work.”

“I hope the entire community will join me in welcoming Dr. Burger to the St. David’s Foundation family. We are delighted that he will be the next leader of our organization, as we continue to strive to make Central Texas the healthiest community in the world,” said Maxwell.

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