John Burkoff: Executive Dean and Semester at Sea veteran

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Jan 9, 2018


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John Burkoff: Executive Dean and Semester at Sea veteran

Dr. John Burkoff, executive dean of the Spring 2018 voyage, is no stranger to Semester at Sea. Not only has he been involved as a Semester at Sea parent, but this will be his seventh voyage as a staculty member on the ship. However, he’s treating this time like his first.

“25 percent of the faculty are repeaters and I really want to challenge everyone to look at this voyage through new eyes,” Burkoff said, “Every voyage is different so it’s important we don’t fall back on solving issues like how we used to solve them.”

Burkoff is sailing as the executive dean, meaning he will oversee all staff members and handle student issues related to safety.

“My number one goal is safety,” Burkoff said, “[The goal] is to bring every person back to port safe and sound.”

If Burkoff is an expert in anything, it’s the law. Burkoff is professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh where he has taught since 1976. Burkoff attended Harvard Law School and has published 49 books in the area of criminal law, criminal procedure and legal ethics.

“I think people will find I’m not typically a serious person, but I am really serious about the rules,” Burkoff said, “I see myself as sort of the stern father of the voyage.”

While Burkoff has sailed multiple times on Semester at Sea, he is excited to visit a few ports he hasn’t been to, including Myanmar, South Africa and Ghana.

“There are ports I haven’t been to in 21 years so I’m interested to see how different things are,” said Burkoff, whose first voyage took place in the spring of 1990.

Burkoff wants to spend this voyage helping students and others to understand new cultures. He hopes students develop tolerance and patience as they step outside their comfort zone.

“Mostly, I am excited for the vicarious pleasure I take from students’ adventures,” Burkoff said, “It’s like experiencing it for the first time.”

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