top of page


We can complain about the politicization of the university, but the problem is with what we’re offering.

There’s nothing going on for students that feeds their souls and

to which they can give their passions, and into that void

come the controversies of the day, and they take over.


If one had a campus where what was going on was meaningful to the students,

there would be much less seduction into these kinds of controversies.

Let post-modern faculty do what they want — the students would go where they could read

the books that matter to them and where the things dearest to their hearts

could be discussed openly in a climate of respect. If you build it, they will come.


Leon Kass, MD, PhD


Established in 2019, the Bur Oak Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation dedicated to serving the academic community of the University of Michigan.

We appreciate that higher education should not simply seek to train persons with

outstanding expertise in particular, isolated professional disciplines. Rather, the university experience should provide students with opportunities to ask deep questions of meaning and existence, which seem to be increasingly overlooked in contemporary academia. 

We support intellectual life on campus by encouraging scholarship which explores questions of universal human concern that cut across the boundaries of academic disciplines. Throughout the year, we seek to promote a range of programming for Michigan students and faculty, including reading groups, seminars and workshops, lectures and conversations with and among faculty.

The name of the Foundation refers to the legacy tree - a 200 year old Bur Oak - that was preserved and re-planted during the recent construction of the Ross School of Business. The account of the tree's preservation serves as an apt metaphor for the ideals inspiring our Foundation: to engage contemporary thought in today's academic environment with time-tested intellectual values in a spirit of friendship, collegiality and intellectual rigor.

bottom of page