HANNIBAL - Though Woodrow Burt officially retires as president of Hannibal-LaGrange University in August, he can't move away, Hannibal Mayor Roy Hark declared April 26.
Hark was one of several local dignitaries to turn out for a university-hosted retirement reception for Burt and wife Katherine in the Roland Fine Arts Center. Katherine serves as chair of the humanities division and English department.
The mayor reminded Burt that the school administration building fire in 1989 was the first disaster Hark responded to as the city's fire chief. At the time, Burt was the university's executive vice president and academic dean. He became president in 1995.
"I have great respect, admiration and love...for Dr. Burt," Hark said. "He always has a smile.... We're gonna miss him." Then looking at the university president, he added, "I expect you to be around here because we need citizens like you."
The mayor presented a proclamation and the key to the city. In addition, Missouri Rep. Lindel Shumake (R-Dist. 6) presented a proclamation from the House of Representatives. Burt also received a Senate proclamation.
In a brief news conference before the reception, Burt said one of the highlights of his presidency has been the strengthening of the institution's relationship with Hannibal. "We've had a good relationship but it's been a pleasure to see that strengthened," he said.
Student attitudes and quality of the faculty also have been gratifying. "I am amazed by our students and the quality of their commitment to study and to the Lord," he said.
This fall, Burt and Katherine will teach at Harlaxton College, the British campus of the University of Evansville, a Methodist liberal arts college in Indiana.