Harkin estate gift supports Birkhead-Burkhead Fund

James and Lucille HarkinsAlumnus James M. Harkin ’76 MSSc/’78 PhD (SSc) and his wife, Lucille Boilard-Harkin, have made estate plans that will provide ongoing scholarship support to students in Maxwell’s MPA degree program.

The gift is an estate arrangement with the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, listing the Maxwell School among designated ultimate beneficiaries. The gift will support Maxwell’s Birkhead-Burkhead Fund, of which James Harkin was a founding donor in 1987.

The fund, which was developed with the guidance and leadership of Professor Bernard (Bunny) Jump, honors former Dean Guthrie Birkhead and former Maxwell Professor of Economics Jesse Burkhead. Dean Birkhead himself was directly engaged in the current design of the fund, which generates more than $8,000 annually to support scholarships and fellowships for graduate students. Approximately 75 donors have contributed more than $200,000 to the Birkhead-Burkhead Fund, to which the Harkins have maintained a program of substantial annual giving.

While a student at Maxwell, James Harkin served as graduate assistant for Guthrie Birkhead when the latter served as associate dean and later dean. Dean Birkhead and Professor Burkhead were Harkin’s principal dissertation advisors. As dean, Birkhead assured that the Harkin family was protected by health insurance when the Harkins’ son, Jeremy, confronted serious ongoing health concerns. Birkhead’s response to Harkin’s expression of gratitude was, according to Harkin, “essential Guthrie”: “You can thank me by providing help to others when someday you are in position to do so,” Birkhead said. “In that exchange,” Harkin adds, “was the origin of the Birkhead-Burkhead Fund.”

Emilie Harkin, James and Lucille's daughter, later attended Syracuse University. While there, she developed her own close relationship with Guthrie and Louise Birkhead, who were important friends and counselors to her. Emilie graduated in 2002 with bachelor degrees in political science and magazine journalism. Today, she works at The Atlantic as senior director, customer marketing and growth. 

James Harkin recently completed a five-year transition to retirement; he previously owned and developed a personal and business financial planning practice. Lucille Boilard-Harkin recently retired as an adjunct professor of French at Pima Community College, and continues to work with private students.