Tom Burish was elected provost of the University of Notre Dame on July 21, 2005. He is the fourth person to hold the office since it was established in 1970. The provost, the University’s second-ranking officer, is elected by the Board of Trustees and, at the direction of the president, exercises overall responsibility for the academic enterprise.
A Notre Dame alumnus and distinguished scholar in the field of clinical psychology, Burish served as president of Washington and Lee University for three years before assuming his present position and was Vanderbilt University’s longest-serving provost, holding that post from 1992 to 2002.
In accepting his appointment as provost, Burish praised his alma mater as a great academic and Catholic institution. “This latter attribute, its being a Catholic institution, drew me here as an undergraduate, and is a major reason I am now drawn back,” he said. “The challenge of wrapping together our faith-based heritage while further strengthening our academic excellence is a rare opportunity and, for me, a special dream. I did not anticipate this opportunity or seek it, but am excited by it and am grateful for it.”
After his graduation from Notre Dame in 1972, Burish, a native of Peshtigo, Wisc., received master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology and clinical psychology from the University of Kansas in 1975 and 1976, respectively. While in graduate school, he also worked in the Kansas University Medical Center’s psychiatry department and children’s rehabilitation unit.
In 1976, Burish joined Vanderbilt’s faculty as an assistant professor of psychology. He taught undergraduate courses in abnormal psychology, personality, introduction to delivery of psychological services, and stress and biofeedback as well as graduate courses in psychopathology, health psychology, and clinical practicum. He remained at Vanderbilt for the next 26 years, establishing a prominent reputation in cancer research, receiving honors for excellence as an undergraduate teacher, and serving in numerous administrative positions, including as chair of the Department of Psychology from 1984 to 1986.
A member of the American Cancer Society’s national board of directors from 1991 to 2006, Burish served as its chair from 2004 to 2005. He sits on numerous scientific advisory committees and is the coauthor or coeditor of four books, including Coping with Chronic Disease: Research and Applications and Cancer, Nutrition, and Eating Behavior: A Biobehavioral Perspective. He also has contributed to more than 16 other books and has written some 70 journal articles in his field. Among the editorial boards on which he serves are those of the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology and the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.
Burish currently serves on several nonprofit boards of directors, including BioCrossroads and Memorial Hospital and Health Systems of South Bend, Ind. He was the 2006 recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas.
Burish and his wife, Pamela, have two sons: Mark, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton and Ph.D. and M.D. at Vanderbilt and now resides in San Francisco, Calif., and Brent, who earned his B.S. and M.B.A. from Notre Dame and now resides in Starke, Fla.