–By Clara-Meretan Kiah. Alexandra Pecharich contributed to this article.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
These words guided alumnus David Burke ’78 through life. Many remember the late hospitality executive, who passed in August 2018, for “his gift for navigating complex issues and for injecting his unique brand of humor at the most opportune times” – and for his mentorship and advising of hundreds of peers in his lifetime.
For his steadfast dedication to his field and to those around him, Burke has been posthumously awarded the FIU Medallion, the highest honor the university can bestow.
A native of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Burke began his career in hospitality at Boca Raton Resort & Club after earning a bachelor of science in hospitality management from FIU. He went on to a 10-year tenure at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts at properties in Maui, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and the Caribbean before joining the upper management of The Breakers in 1991. There for over 27 years, he became as much a staple of the property as its signature oceanfront view. As executive vice president & chief sales and marketing officer, clients and employees respected and loved him, recognizing him as a thoughtful, dedicated and joyful leader.
Many in the hospitality field considered David Burke an institution; he served his community with distinction on the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council board and the executive board for Discover the Palm Beaches.
Following a long, successful career in the hospitality industry, Burke’s support for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management today reflects his legacy within the industry and at the university – one which will live on through the scholarship endowment he established in 2017 to bolster the next generation of hospitality professionals studying at FIU.
Burke’s wife, Amy, and his sons, Matt and Ryan, accepted the award in his honor at the Chaplin School’s Summer 2019 commencement ceremony on Sunday, July 28.
“We are so thankful to the Burke family for their continued support of the Chaplin School,” said Interim Dean Michael Cheng. “David Burke was an incredible inspiration to our students and his colleagues in our industry, and his legacy will live on in the Chaplin School for generations to come.”