UPDATED: After more than 20 years of dedicated service to WKU, Barbara Burch dies overnight

Barbara Burch, who served as WKU Provost, faculty regent, professor and more, died around midnight on Jan. 5 according to the Warren County coroner’s office.

Rebekah Alvey & Natasha Breu

Provost Emerita Barbara Burch, 81, who served in several vital roles at WKU, died in Bowling Green on Jan. 5 shortly after midnight, Brad Birge, a Warren County deputy coroner said. 

There will be a visitation Jan. 8 from 4 to 9 p.m. at J.C. Kirby and Son Lover Lane Chapel, and a funeral service at Holy Spirit Catholic Church at 10 a.m. on Jan. 9, according to the coroner’s office. 

In the more than 20 years Burch spent at WKU, she served in a variety of roles, including provost and vice president for Academic Affairs from 1996 to 2010 and briefly as interim president in 1997. She also served one term as the faculty regent on the Board of Regents where she helped select current WKU President Timothy Caboni. 

More recently, Burch founded the Kelly M. Burch Institute for Transformative Practices in Higher Education, which was named to honor her late daughter and works with faculty, staff and administration to incubate and implement new ideas to aid the university.  

Among other roles, Burch also chaired WKU Sisterhood, an organization of women dedicated to philanthropic engagement. 

In a press release sent via email, Caboni acknowledged Burch’s “wisdom, her good counsel, and her willingness to speak her mind to benefit our university, and more importantly, our students.”

Burch also had an impact on others members of the WKU community, such as Board of Regents Chair Freddie Higdon. He described her in the release as an “instrumental resource” and said she offered him a “warm welcome” when he first joined the Board.

“She was very endearing to me from day one, and we developed a true friendship as a result,” Higdon said in the release. 

According to the email, a “Tribute Wall” has been set up in memory of Burch, where memories, pictures and stories can be shared. It can be accessed at www.wku.edu/burch.

The release encourages those wishing to express sympathy to do so by offering contributions to the Kelly M. Burch Institute for Transformative Practices in Higher Education, c/o WKU Foundation, 1906 College Heights Blvd., Bowling Green, Kentucky, 42101.

A previous version of this story mistakenly reported Burch died around midnight on Jan. 4. rather than shortly after midnight on Jan. 5. The story has been corrected and the Herald regrets this error. 

Editor-in-Chief Rebekah Alvey can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @bekah_alvey.

News Editor Natasha Breu can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Natasha on Twitter at @nnbreu.