Alumnus Ed Burke: Charity Begins at Home

A charitable gift annuity helped alumnus Ed Burke make a difference for today’s CSUN students.

Ed Burke ’60 (Social Science) spent nearly four decades as an educator and as much time involved in politics, from the local to the national level. He always had a drive to help others, but after retiring in 2012, he wasn’t sure how to continue making a contribution.

Burke, who taught history and government for 33 years at Chatsworth High School, wanted to continue helping students, and he believed that the beneficiary should be the university that helped launch his career. After speaking with CSUN’s Office of Planned Giving about his options, he decided to set up a charitable gift annuity.

The annuity, established for his wife Carol, was funded by some stock Burke owned. Once the annuity began, the university started to give Carol a set payment that will continue for the rest of her life.

“I had a good education,” Burke said. “When I went to school, it was dirt cheap — I had no loans that I had to pay back. But my granddaughters are now paying a fortune to go to school. In a way, I’m giving back, helping a student to be able to attend CSUN, or helping CSUN to expand its activities.”

Setting up the annuity felt like the right thing to do after a satisfying career and life — one that got its start during the infancy of CSUN, Burke said. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social science when the school was known as San Fernando Valley State College. During his time as a student, he discovered a love of public service, becoming active in campus politics, spending time on the student council and running for student body president.

After graduation, Burke remained politically active. He ran for the California State Senate, served as the chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee and the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, and served on the Democratic National Committee. He attended several national conventions in support of presidential candidates such as Ted Kennedy, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Jerry Brown.

After retiring from teaching in 1998, Burke continued his work with the Los Angeles Unified School District for another 15 years as chief of staff to board member John Lorenson and chief advisor to board member Bennett Kayser. He also founded the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program for teachers.

In recent years, Burke moved to Oahu, Hawaii, but his heart has remained tied to the San Fernando Valley. Fifty-five years after graduation, the names of the professors who made an impact on his life roll off his tongue.

“One of the things that made my education so good was the professors I had — Campbell, Stelk, Fleming, Pitt,” he said. “I believe in education, and the tax break and annual payments from the charitable gift annuity made it easy for me to decide how to help. If I can help students attend and have a better experience at CSUN, then that’s good. If some of them want to become educators or politicians, then that’s very good!”