Father of Football Captain
Gives $1m for Scholarships
December 13, 1999
Robert G. Burton, a Greenwich businessman, has announced a contribution of $1 million to establish scholarships for UConn football players enrolled in the University's School of Business. Through the UConn 2000 matching gift program, the gift total will be $1.5 million.
The scholarship will be named for his son, Michael G. Burton, a senior at the University and one of the captains of UConn's football team.
Acknowledging the gift, University President Philip E. Austin said, "The generosity and commitment of people like Bob Burton are vital to our continuing movement to the first ranks of American public higher education. Bob's gift is a farsighted investment in academics as well as athletics. We are deeply grateful for his support."
Burton, who until recently was chair, president and chief executive officer of World Color, a color printing company, said he was establishing the scholarship program to benefit football players interested in pursuing a career in business.
"As a former collegiate and professional football player, I personally benefited from having a scholarship," he said. "Had I not been the recipient of a scholarship, I would not have been able to attend college. And had I not gone to college, I obviously would not have enjoyed the success in business that now allows me to give back what was once given to me. On behalf of my wife, Paula, and our three sons, it gives me great pleasure to invest in the future of deserving student-athletes and support the leadership and vision of the University of Connecticut."
The gift for football scholarships comes at a critical time for the sport. "I thank Bob Burton and his family for taking a leadership role as we make the transition to Division I-A football," said Lew Perkins, director of athletics. "Bob recognizes the importance of this move for the future of UConn Athletics, and this generous gift will support our deserving football student- athletes both now and in the future.
This is not the first time the University and its students have benefitted from Burton's generosity. He has previously endowed a full scholarship at the business school for student-athletes and is the largest contributor to the school's football program. In recent years he has contributed more than $2 million toward scholarships.
"Bob has shown an unparalleled commitment to academics and athletics through his participation in our athletic program, both through the establishment of The Robert G. Burton Endowed Scholarship Fund several years ago, and now with the creation of this new fund in the name of his son, Michael," said Perkins. "This contribution will make a significant difference in lives of UConn student-athletes for many years to come."
Thomas Gutteridge, dean of the School of Business Administration also expressed appreciation for the gift. "Bob Burton is an excellent role model for football players at UConn and all the students of the University. If not for his athletic prowess and a commitment to his studies, he would have been unable to attend college," he said.
As a student, Burton was the recipient of a full scholarship from his alma mater, Murray State University in Kentucky. He was captain of the Murray State football team, a four-year first team starter, and an All-American selection in his senior year. After graduating, he was a ninth round selection of the San Francisco 49ers and later signed with the Buffalo Bills.
He also received a master's degree in business at the University of Tennessee and worked toward his doctoral degree at the Universities of Chicago and Alabama. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of business from Murray State University.
Burton began his business career at IBM and held a series of successively more responsible executive level positions at CBS, Capital Cities/ABC and most recently at World Color in Greenwich. He led the turnaround of World Color, which culminated in the sale of the company in October, providing stockholders in the company unparalleled returns on their investments.
His philanthropy has included providing scholarships for football players at several other universities. He also has created numerous employment opportunities for students at the companies he has run.
In addition to his leadership roles on various national charitable, educational and health related organizations, Burton is an active member of the University of Connecticut's School of Business Administration advisory council. He is a board member of Cancer Care of Connecticut and the Breast Cancer Board of Advisors and is active in funding scholarships for various programs through the Burton Charitable Foundation.