Diplomats to Speak About Changing World at Benedictine College

Diplomats to Speak About Changing World at Benedictine College

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Benedictine College will present a free lecture by Jim and Bridget Burkart, career diplomats, on Monday, November 10, at 7:00 p.m. in the McAllister Board Room on the fourth floor of the Ferrell Academic Center.  The couple, who raised nine children while serving as United States diplomats, will offer their thoughts on “Our Role in a Changing World.” The presentation, sponsored by the Benedictine College Convocation and Arts Committee and the School of Business, is free and open to the public.

“Even by State Department standards, their accomplishments are unusual and unconventional,” said Dr. John Bunch, associate professor in the School of Business and coordinator of the College’s Institute for Professional Ethics and Responsibility.  

Until mandatory retirement in 1996, Jim’s primary focus was on political and economic matters and Bridget’s was in consular affairs.  After retirement, the couple has taken temporary assignments into their eighties.  They have served on all continents except Australia and Antarctica, quite often in places experiencing turbulence or considered hardship posts. 

While in Jerusalem, they became friends with scholars of the Ecole Biblique, which was housed at their parish, St. Stephen’s, and where the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls ultimately resulted in The Jerusalem Bible (French version).  Jim was called upon to take leave from his job to prepare the itinerary and protocol requirements for the first Papal Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, that of Pope Paul VI in January, 1964. 

During their careers, the couple has experienced their city being bombed, war evacuations (as both evacuees and evacuators), quietly finding resolutions to conflict, helping American citizens abroad, working with refugees, investigating frauds and human trafficking.  Among the notable people they encountered during their long careers were Pope Paul VI, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, the British Royal Family, the Jordanian Royal family, the Saudi Royal Family, high-ranking US government officials, and countless others. 

The Convocation and Arts Committee has scheduled three additional events in rapid succession in November:

  • Thursday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. in the McAllister Board Room: Vase of Fresh Flowers, a play about the strength of women, written and directed by Deb Campbell.
  • Friday, Nov. 21, at 9 p.m. in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium: Judah & the Lion, an American folk band from Nashville, will perform.
  • Monday, Nov. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium: internationally renowned pianist Robert Fleitz will perform works by Bach, Beethoven, Schoumann, Sessions and Griffey.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.