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Term of Award

Fall 2002

Degree Name

Doctor of Letters

Institution Issuing the Honorary Degree

Armstrong State University

Brief Biography of Degree Recipient

Robert Adair Burnett (1934-2004) served Armstrong for over twenty years, advancing from an assistant professor of history to the University’s fifth president. Born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Wofford College and went on to pursue his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Burnett first arrived at Armstrong State College in 1978. He held several positions including Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Vice President and Dean of Faculty. In 1984, Dr. Burnett was named president of the institution.

Dr. Burnett’s time as president was fruitful, resulting in many positive improvements to the University. Under his tenure, enrollment doubled and endowments increased. He strengthened the sports programs, developed an additional twenty-five majors and expanded the scholarship programs. The first International Programs Office was instituted to create opportunities for study abroad and exchange student experiences. Dr. Burnett also made Armstrong a technological leader by bringing computer labs to campus as well as establishing distance learning programs. After ten years as president, he retired in 1999. Dr. Burnett was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in the Fall of 2002.

Dr. Burnett, a Veteran of the United States Army, also devoted his time to a number of professional and civic organizations. He held leadership positions in the Presidents' Commission of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Savannah Economic Development Authority, the Rotary Club of Savannah, the Business, Education and Technology Alliance. He served on the Boards of the Union Mission and the Savannah Music Festival, was the president-elect of the Royce Center, a founding board member of the Flannery O’Connor House and sat on the board of trustees at Candler Hospital.


Georgia Southern University, Honorary degree, Doctor of Letters


More information about Robert Adair Burnett can be found in the December 2002 Armstrong Atlantic State University Commencement program as well as in his obituary.

Photo courtesy of Special Collections at Lane Library (Armstrong).

Robert Adair Burnett

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