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John Burness named interim president of Franklin & Marshall

Lancaster Sunday News
August 16, 2010
Trying to fill the shoes of former Franklin & Marshall College President John Fry — even in the short term — could be a daunting prospect.

But John H. Burness knows the best way to handle such a challenge is simple: Just be yourself.

A 1967 graduate of F&M and a seven-year member of the college's board of trustees, Burness began his yearlong tenure as Franklin & Marshall's interim president July 1.

He came to Lancaster from Duke University, where he was visiting professor at the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy of the Sanford School of Public Policy. Prior to that, he spent 17 years as senior vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke.

Throughout his career, Burness, 65, has been a leading advocate for academic freedom and the First Amendment.

He exhibited early signs of leadership potential while attending Franklin & Marshall, where he was president of student government. Burness likes to tell the story of how the food quality was so poor at F&M when he was matriculating that he and his friends once marched to the home of President Keith Spalding — after a particularly bad meal — to complain.
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