Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Burch, Betty, 1907-1998
Betty Burch (1907-1998) was an expert in Asian politics who taught at Tufts for twenty-five years.
Burch was born on May 21, 1907, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In 1928, she graduated from Mt. Holyoke College, and subsequently received her master's from Bryn Mawr College. Burch traveled to Switzerland in 1934, where she received a Certificat from the Institutes des Hautes Etudes Internationales de Geneve. Returning to the United States, Burch received her Ph. D. from Radcliffe College, where she studied under George Grafton Wilson, an early pillar of the Fletcher School.
She began her teaching career as dean of women and lecturer in political science at the College of Idaho in 1942, and moved to Tufts as an instructor in government in 1946. Burch was promoted to assistant professor in 1955, associate professor in 1961, and full professor in 1970. From 1958 to 1959, Burch was a fellow in East Asian Studies at Harvard, and starting in 1960, Burch also served as an instructor in political science and Chinese studies at the Radcliffe Seminars. In 1963 and again in 1970, Burch was a scholar at the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study. During this period she authored two books, Dictatorship and Totalitarianism, and Asian Political Systems.
Burch retired in 1972, but continued to lead an active life. She continued to travel extensively with her husband George, a former Tufts professor of philosophy, and continued her work in Asian studies at Harvard's Fairbank Center for East Asian Studies.
Burch died on April 28, 1998, in New London, New Hampshire. In honor of her influence as a professor, a former student donated a remodeled classroom in Eaton featuring modern audio-visual capabilities and two large pieces of Chinese art.