JoAnn Burton Citation - Commencement 2017

May 21, 2017


Throughout your life, you have been quietly and steadfastly advocating for young people, especially in the areas of education and opportunity.

Following in the activist tradition of your forebears and in partnership with your late husband, Ron Burton Sr., you launched the Ron Burton Training Village in Hubbardston, Massachusetts 29 years ago. The Training Village offers a comprehensive program that is designed to challenge at-risk young people, between the ages of 11 and 18, academically, physically, and spiritually.

With the motto of “God first, others second, me third,” the Training Village focuses on four core values: love, peace, patience, and humility.

Working with campers over a seven year period, Training Village staff are committed to ensuring that each camper not only graduates from high school but also goes on to attend college. After Ron’s passing in 2003, you and your your five children—Ron Jr., Paul, Phil, Steve, and Elizabeth—have dedicated yourselves to securing and enhancing his legacy.

Since its foundation in 1985, the Training Village has now inspired more than 4,000 young people. At Stonehill, we are blessed that 20 of those former campers have attended the College on full scholarship. We share your pride in their successes in fields as varied as music, criminal justice, marketing, and healthcare.

For your model of understated, effective leadership, your passion for your faith and your family, and your commitment to helping at-risk youth to transform their lives, Stonehill College is proud to bestow upon you, JoAnn Burton, honoris causa, the degree of Doctor of Humanities.

 Citation read by Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology Pamela Kelley.