Southwestern University

Edward Burger

Southwestern’s 15th President 

President Emeritus Burger graduated summa cum laude with distinction in mathematics from Connecticut College and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from The University of Texas at Austin. He joined the faculty of Williams College in 1990 and held several endowed positions there, including being the Francis Christopher Oakley Third Century Professor of Mathematics.

In 1997, Dr. Burger became one of the first individuals to make instructional mathematics videos accessible to a broader audience through mediums such as CD-ROMs and the Internet. Between 1997 and 2013, he created more than 4,000 such videos covering the curriculum from kindergarten through Calculus II that are watched by millions of people from around the globe.

In 2010, Dr. Burger received the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching from Baylor University, one of the most prestigious teaching awards in the world. He spent a year at Baylor serving as the Robert Foster Cherry Professor for Great Teaching, after which the university invited him to stay an additional year and serve as vice provost for strategic educational initiatives.

Dr. Burger was among the people the Huffington Post named to its list of “Game Changers” in 2010 – a group of 100 “innovators, mavericks, visionaries, and leaders in 12 categories who are changing the way we look at the world and the way we live in it.” The publication cited Burger as an Education Game Changer and highlighted one of his innovative approaches to teaching: Encouraging and rewarding effective failure as a means toward greater creativity and deeper understanding.

Dr. Burger has received a number of other national awards, including the 2001 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo National Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics and the Chauvenet Prize from the Mathematical Association of America. In January 2013 he was inducted as one of the first Fellows of the American Mathematical Society.

A noted scholar, Dr. Burger has authored or co-authored more than 35 research articles (with 15 undergraduate co-authors) as well as 12 books including The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking, co-authored with Dr. Michael Starbird from The University of Texas at Austin, which is now in its fourth edition. His most recent book, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, also co-authored with Starbird, has been translated into more than 15 foreign languages and has led to speaking invitations from organizations such as Microsoft, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Dr. Burger has delivered more than 400 lectures worldwide and has appeared on more than 40 radio and TV programs, including a Mathletes episode of NBC’s “Science of the Winter Olympics” series that was shown throughout the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which earned him a Telly Award. Burger also served for three years as mathematics advisor for a series of educational programs that were made to accompany the popular CBS television series, “NUMB3RS.”

In January 2020, Dr. Burger took a new position as President and CEO of St. David’s Foundation, one of the nation’s largest healthcare foundations focusing on health and education. Learn more about this transition here.