Texas Tech University

Impactful Individual: Jane Burns

In 1997, Jane Burns retired as the Frank M. Burke Chair in Taxation, a position she held for 11 years.

Rawls College  |  February 21, 2023

As Texas Tech University celebrates its centennial year in 2023, the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business will highlight impactful individuals from years past. While each person – be it as a student, alumni, friend, faculty or staff member – may have impacted the college or their industry differently, one thing will always be constant: they are all part of the Rawls College legacy. 

Jane Burns is used to overcoming obstacles. As a young female in the 60s and 70s with a passion for accounting, she often found herself to be the only woman in the room a trend that would continue for years.

After graduating from the University of Louisville, Burns was only the third woman in the state of Kentucky to pass the CPA exam. As she pursued her MBA, she was the only woman enrolled in the program.

For the first 25 years of Jane's career, she "worked like a demon" at CPA firms and was active in professional associations, generally as the only woman in both.

At Eastern Kentucky University, Burns found her two great loves, teaching, and her late husband, Hank. The two moved to Pennsylvania where Burns would go on to become the first woman to earn a PhD in Business at Penn State.

When her husband Hank died, she moved to her dream position, as the Frank M. Burke Chair in Taxation at Texas Tech.

Burns was renowned for her research. But it was her role as a mentor that she said she most cherished.

"I started by spending extra time each month with our doctoral students, teaching them about research and what you have to do for tenure", she said. "Later, whenever I traveled to a university to present my research, I always asked if I could also spend time with their masters and Ph.D. students."

She has been recognized for her professional accomplishments by both her alma maters as an Alumni Fellow in the University of Louisvilles College of Business and as the first woman to receive the Smeal College of Business Accounting Department Distinguished Alumni Award.

"My professional friends around the country ask me if Texas Tech University is a good place to be, said Burns. With honesty, I say: 'No Texas Tech is not a good place to be; IT'S A GREAT PLACE."

For more information on the impact of Rawls College, please visit the centennial exhibit at the Texas Tech Museum.