Burt marks 10 years as HLG’s president
By Brandy Campbell
HLG Public Relations
February 8, 2005
Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations. –George Bernard Shaw
HANNIBAL — Woodrow Burt, or Woodie as his friends know him, has served Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) in nearly every role possible. He arrived at HLG with his wife, Katherine, and then two-year old son, Mark, in tow in 1976 when then President Paul Brown hired him as a speech professor and director of admissions.
“We were serving at a church in Memphis when Dr. Brown called, and weren’t really looking to move,” said Burt. “But I had worked in education before and really enjoyed the experience, and felt God’s hand in us moving to Missouri.”
In all, Burt has accumulated 25 years of service at HLG, and has served as dean of student affairs, academic dean, registrar, chief development officer, executive vice-president, interim president, and president.
Feb. 10 marked Burt’s 10-year anniversary as president of HLG. During his tenure as president, Burt has seen the residential enrollment grow by more than 200 percent. Under his supervision, dorms have been renovated, the athletic program has expanded, and the college’s administrative organization has been restructured. Burt is especially excited about the additions of the Roland Fine Arts Center and the Carroll Missions Center to the campus.
“When I look back on what the campus held in 1976, the strides that we have made are astounding,” said Burt. “Some of those changes to campus were made out of necessity, but the growth in recent years and the addition of such beautiful buildings shows the Lord’s work here.”
The Lord’s work is on the forefront of Burt’s vision for HLG, and his passion for missions is evidence of that vision. Burt’s goal is “for Hannibal-LaGrange to become the center for recruitment and training of students called to missions.”
“Missions was such a life-shaping part of college for me, and I want our students to have those same opportunities,” said Burt.
Tom Hufty, vice president for collegiate affairs and assistant to the president, has worked with Burt on the Carroll Missions Center since its inception. Though Hufty acknowledges the importance of the physical additions to HLG, he also stressed the more far-reaching advances Burt has made as president.
“The heart of [Burt’s] leadership is found not in physical buildings but in the building of people,” said Hufty. “I feel I’m a better leader by virtue of the time I’ve had to spend with him. I also believe others on campus have benefited from sitting under the shade of his leadership.”
The secret of a leader lies in the tests he has faced over the whole course of his life and the habit of action he develops in meeting those tests. –Gail Sheehy
Though Burt’s presidency has been marked with success, he is quick to remember the past and the struggles that HLG has endured. Burt became president just six years after a fire ravaged a major building complex on campus. Through these trying years HLG flourished under Burt’s careful leadership.
“I like to think that I have a collaborative leadership style,” said Burt. “I appreciate the input of others when making decisions. Occasionally I have to bite the bullet and make the decision myself, but even then I’m influenced by the wisdom of so many others who I have learned from.”
Much of that wisdom has come from fellow workers at HLG. Burt is proud of the HLG faculty and staff and finds it easy to brag on them.
“The people I work with are definitely a highlight to my job,” he said. “We have the finest faculty, and I consider myself privileged to associate with them. The quality of people at HLG is such a benefit.”
Burt’s leadership style doesn’t go unnoticed. Garry Breland, vice president for academic affairs has served at HLG since 1983. He says that “Dr. Burt is an open, accessible leader who sets a good example and inspires others to excel. One of the things I like best about working with Dr. Burt is that he reposes a great deal of trust in those who work under his leadership. Also, he’s unfailingly humble and gracious toward people.”
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. –John C. Maxwell
Outstanding faculty, dedicated staff, growing numbers. They’re all important at HLG, but Burt says that the thing that keeps him going is always the students.
“College students have a contagious energy about them,” he said. “It is rewarding to see them excited about life and serving God, and you can’t help but pick up on that.”
“It sounds cliché, but it’s amazing that God continues to allow me to help form our future leaders,” continued Burt. “It’s rewarding and humbling to know that you’re helping mold lives.”
After more than 30 years working in higher education, Burt has touched countless lives. Whether in the classroom or the boardroom, he has taken seriously the task with which God has entrusted him, peers say. He is a part of a legacy of presidents who have shaped HLG into the Christ-centered institution that it is today.
“God has placed Dr. Burt as president of Hannibal-LaGrange College at this time to carry out His master plan, and because of Dr. Burt’s integrity, godliness, and leadership, HLG continues to grow,” concluded Connie Benson, vice president for institutional advancement. “I feel blessed and honored to work for Dr. Burt and to be a part of this era in HLG’s history.”