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Nancy Burdine, who met her late husband, Bill, at MIT, recently made a major gift to the Institute to celebrate his memory–and to celebrate student life.

“Students are the hope of the future. They’re the hope of the world,” says Nancy, whose gift includes support for MIT’s Music and Theater Arts section and, specifically, the MIT Concert Choir and the Gilbert and Sullivan Players. “Music is enriching. It’s so uplifting to the spirit,” she says, adding that she met Bill when she was a Harvard student and both were members of the MIT Choral Society, a group then open to the wider community.

In addition, her gift will support MIT’s Public Service Center. “There weren’t opportunities for global service in 1952, but MIT’s Public Service Center now reaches out to help people around the world, and that’s wonderful,” she says. Nancy has also given MIT the first catboat in its sailing fleet–the Bill and Nancy Burdine. “For years, we had our own sailboat, which we sailed in Boston Harbor,” she recalls. “I wanted to celebrate that Bill had learned to sail at MIT.”

Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University in 1949 and a master’s in electrical engineering from MIT in 1952. His 35-year career included a stint at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, a work assignment in France, and 20 years at GTE Labs, where he worked on early development of long-distance transmission through fiber optics. Nancy earned a bachelor of arts degree from Mt. Holyoke and a master’s in education from Harvard. They were married in 1956 and had two daughters. For decades, the couple enjoyed music together: Nancy played oboe, Bill played bassoon, and they performed in area instrumental groups, often accompanying singers. Bill also enjoyed hiking, skiing, and photography. He died in 2003. Now, Nancy continues to run a concert series that she and Bill established at their church in Lexington.

Nancy’s gifts will support MIT’s Campaign for Students, which seeks to raise $500 million by 2011. “Academics can be all-consuming,” she says. “It’s important that activities help bring balance into students’ lives. I know that Bill would be pleased.”

For giving information, contact Rob Scott: 617-253-3394;

rscott@mit.edu. Or visit giving.mit.edu.

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Credit: Ed Quinn

Tagged: Computing

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