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Burness, chief University spokesperson, to retire

John Burness, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations, will retire June 30, 2008, the University announced today.

Burness has been at Duke since 1991, leading up the University's public relations through the lacrosse case and myriad other situations. He served presidents Keith Brodie, Nan Keohane and Richard Brodhead and also played a central role in the creation of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership.

"I've been blessed to work at Duke during a time of extraordinary transformation of the University to its current status as one of the leading universities in the world," Burness said in a statement. "It's been a wonderful experience, but I told President Brodhead about two years ago that it's time for me to slow down and move on to the next phase of my life. I look forward to thinking and writing about issues affecting higher education and its role in society."

Prior to being hired at Duke, Burness was vice president for university relations at Cornell University; he also worked at State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of Illinois.

In a release, Brodhead praised Burness' service to the University.

"John Burness has been a tireless servant of this university, leading every aspect of University communications through a period of dynamic change," he said. "He built a professional news service that has increased Duke's visibility and been very effective in attracting attention to the many important contributions of our faculty, especially in research and scholarship."

But Burness also gained his share of detractors, who charged that he botched the handling of the lacrosse case.

Stay tuned to The Chronicle online for updates on this and other stories.

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