Burnham tapped as UM's education dean

University of Mississippi

OXFORD – Tom Burnham, former state superintendent of education, returns home next week to head the University of Mississippi's School of Education.

Burnham resigned as superintendent of the Henderson County, N.C., public school system to become the sixth dean of the state's oldest program for training teachers and school administrators.

A Puckett native, Burnham was named state superintendent of education in 1992, serving a five-year term. His accomplishments at the state level were remarkable, said former board of education president Jack Reed of Tupelo, who recommended him for the Ole Miss post.

“Dr. Burnham is a progressive thinker with an outstanding record,” said Reed. “He knows what Mississippi schools and teachers need. He'll be an excellent dean at Ole Miss.”

As state superintendent, Burnham championed the Mississippi Adequate Education Act, established a statewide reading initiative, directed the development of the first Mississippi Report Card, initiated the Mississippi Tech Prep program, implemented a $30 million program for technology in classrooms and reorganized the Mississippi Department of Education to become a service agency.

“I'm excited to return to Mississippi,” Burnham said. “I have a love and respect for my home state and an intense desire to make a continuing contribution to the successful initiatives currently under way at Ole Miss.”

His goals include enriching and extending the professional preparation of education graduates, and encouraging and recruiting young people to the profession.

Burnham said he also will enjoy being closer to family. His wife, Terri, is the technology director for the Gulfport School District, and his mother still resides on the farm where he was reared.

His daughter, Sondra Vanderford, is a teacher at Brandon High School, and he has two grandsons.