Achievement in the Liberal Arts Award
George Burrill began with an interest in farming, added a Drew education, and took both around the globe.
While he grew up on a farm in Ticonderoga, New York, George was active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship, where local pastors led him to Drew. He immersed himself in his political science major, benefiting from the inspired teaching of “Prof” Smith and Julius Mastro, and began to explore the world. He not only enrolled in the London and Washington Semesters, but in 1961–62, he and six other students spent 13 months in a 28,000-mile goodwill tour of Latin American universities, postponing George’s graduation for a year.
His first step after graduation took George to the University of Arizona for graduate work in comparative government. He interrupted his work to join the Peace Corps, worked with agricultural extension and construction in Togo, and then spent another year training volunteers in basic agricultural extension techniques before returning to Arizona. He received the MA in 1971, then served a year as instructor and administrator at the University of Vermont. Three years as academic director and dean of Burlington College, and founding and directing the College’s Center for Studies in Food Self-Sufficiency, followed—all while pursuing the PhD in political science from Union Graduate School in Ohio.
By 1977, George was ready to found ARD (Associates in Rural Development), based in Charlotte, Vermont, consulting in a broad range of matters including agriculture, economic growth, energy, environmental and natural resources, and democracy and governance in close to 50 countries. George also founded and chaired the Business Alliance for International Economic Development in Washington, DC from 1995 to 2003, has been involved with the Brookings Institution, and consulted the U.S. Congress on technology and food/agricultural policy. He is the author of numerous publications for clients, governments, and the World Bank. Among his greatest satisfactions has been seeing ARD (now the international division of Tetra Tech), from which he retired in 2007, grow into a substantial organization, helping many people around the world at both local and national levels and enhancing the functioning of democratic society.
George has been active at Drew, especially in the Sciences Advisory Committee, and has strongly supported renovation of the Hall of Sciences. He is on the Board of Trustees of Champlain College and the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and has also been involved in Democratic Party politics, serving on President Obama’s 2008 campaign advisory team for foreign affairs. He is married to Lola Van Wagenen, a historian who earned her PhD in American history at New York University; she is the founder and president of Clio Visualizing History, which provides educational films and online history exhibits. The couple live in Charlotte, Vermont, and spend four months each year in New Zealand, where George is the Honorary Counsel to Vermont.