Funeral services announced for Bettye Burkhalter, former vice president and associate provost

Published: May 05, 2017
Updated: June 21, 2017
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Former Auburn University Vice President and Associate Provost Bettye B. Burkhalter, 75, of Gordo, Alabama, passed away Thursday, May 4, at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa after a long battle with ALS.

The service will be held Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m. at Shiloh Free Will Baptist Church in Gordo with Rev. Randy Key officiating. The burial will be held in the Shiloh Church Cemetery with Skelton Funeral Home of Reform, Alabama, directing. Shiloh's Rev. Roger Lucas will provide music. The family will receive friends immediately following the service in the sanctuary.

Burkhalter retired from Auburn in 2000 as vice president and associate provost and professor emerita. She was a University of Alabama alumna and held five degrees including two doctorates. As a graduate faculty professor in Auburn’s College of Education, she also served as special assistant to the vice president for research; director and professor of the Auburn University Economic Development Institute; and associate provost for assessment and quality improvement and academic affairs.

Her career began as a teacher in the classroom and moved into leadership positions within the Birmingham City School System. In 1978, she became part of the Auburn Family. Professionally, she was recognized with numerous prestigious awards both nationally and internationally through her work at Auburn. Many of the awards were for pioneering new programs and concepts that expanded the horizons and approach to education.

She loved Auburn University and the town of Auburn, affectionately known as the “loveliest village on the Plains.” Contributions to the community were impactful through her participation on the Auburn Industrial Development Board. The Economic Development Institute at Auburn University was developed by her and became a springboard for many collaborations and partnerships stimulating economic development through partnerships within education, business, industry, government and communities.

She was particularly proud of her contribution to the space program when she was contracted by the governor's office to develop curriculum for Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. This is one example where her creativity and hard work created a legacy that will continue to impact generations to come.

Her research had an international audience and was translated and disseminated in over 22 countries. Being elected as a lifetime member of the International Academy of Astronautics in Paris, France, was one of her most cherished achievements.

Post retirement, she wrote a three-volume series of creative non-fictional books telling the story of her ancestors and the pioneers that built the foundation of America.

Although she was a business woman with a teacher's heart that made countless contributions, her greatest legacy is her impact on her family. As a mother and grandmother, she taught her daughters and granddaughter to be independent, confident and successful women. She loved her family immensely and was always there in whatever capacity was needed.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Cecil and Margie Burrell; a brother, John Burrell; a nephew, Brent Burrell; and brother-in-law, Larry Clemons. She is survived by her best friend and husband of 54 years, Boyd Burkhalter; two daughters, Angie Henderson (Rick) of Opelika and April Blount (Jim) of Gordo; a sister, Peggy Clemons of Garden Ridge, Texas; a granddaughter, Katie Griffin (Adam); and two great-grandsons, Luke and Gamble Griffin.

Pallbearers will be Jeff Crowe, Byron Crowe, Grant Kerr, Jeff Wooten, Boyd Koon, Stewart Koon, Matthew Whitehead, Dudley Burkhalter and Alton Burkhalter.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Shiloh Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 1022, Gordo, Alabama 35466.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.