David H. Burton Postdoctoral Fellowship

Professor David H. Burton, Ph.D., retired in 2005 after more than 50 years of building the Saint Joseph's University History Department. He passed away in 2016 and his colleagues wanted to honor him in a manner that would impact the History Department as much as Burton did in his five-plus decades.

Burton had high standards and wanted his students to become their best selves. Highly respected, Burton published on Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Howard Taft and the Progressive Era.

"Most of all, though, he was a true gentleman who worked hard at mentoring and building relationships. It was clear we had to honor him in a manner befitting a man of his caliber."

Randall Miller, Ph.D.

Randall M. Miller, Ph.D

Professor of History

After researching options, the History Department established the David H. Burton Postdoctoral Fellowship, a nontenure track, one- to three year teaching and research position at the rank of visiting assistant professor. The fellow teaches courses in the University's General Education Program and upper-level classes in their specialty. Dedicated funding is available for research support. The fellow also gives a public lecture and conducts a faculty workshop on their research.

A Win-Win Gift

The program has been so successful that David and his wife, Gerri Burton MS '60, decided to support it with a charitable gift annuity through the University's legacy society, the Ignatian Society. A charitable gift annuity allows benefactors to support SJU while receiving steady payments during their lifetime. The remaining assets support Saint Joseph's University—in this case, the Burton History Fellowship.

"The Burton Fellowship is a phenomenal award for the recipient, and it benefits Saint Joseph's University and its History Department, both of which have been integral and important to our lives for more than 50 years," Gerri Burton said.

'Mutually Beneficial'

With the fellowship's establishment, the Burtons will remain integral to the University. Modeled after the University of Chicago's Harper-Schmidt Fellowship, the position focuses on teaching, research and "public outreach" that is mutually beneficial to the fellow and University.

"We wanted to help a new professional by giving them a platform to grow their portfolio," Miller said. "Now they're fully embraced as members of the department and have become integral to our department. They bring in new ideas. The new blood keeps us fresh."

The current fellow is John D.Morton, PhD. His research focuses on migration and state building in the New England/British North America borderlands, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In particular, he focuses on church networks, both Protestant and Catholic, and how they influenced border development. Previous fellows have included Roger L. Martinez, Ph.D., a Spanish medievalist, and Jane Hooper, Ph.D., an expert on the history of the slave trade and early modern state development in Indian Ocean Africa. Both received tenure-track positions following the fellowship.

"It has amazed and pleased us to realize what a terrific idea the Burton Postdoctoral Fellow is," Gerri said. "The number and quality of the applicants, as well as the fellows to date, have been remarkable."

Meet the David H. Burton Postdoctoral Fellow

John Morton, PhD

John Morton, PhD

David H. Burton Postdoctoral Fellow, History

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