Auburn Women’s Philanthropy Board Hosts “World’s Largest Virtual Tailgate” with Andy and Jan Burcham

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

The College of Human Sciences Women’s Philanthropy Board Fall Event brought together Auburn fans from around the country to connect with the Voice of the Auburn Tigers Andy Burcham and philanthropist and educator Jan Burcham. The “World’s Largest Virtual Tailgate” was held via Zoom to ensure the safety of all participants, and in the new format, allowed the Burchams to connect with Auburn family and friends directly.

Andy Burcham announces for Auburn football, men’s basketball and baseball, and hosts the Auburn Tigers Today and the Talking Tigers Podcast. He also co-hosts Tiger Talk, as well as a weekly show for Auburn Athletic teams during their respective seasons.

Burcham shared memories he’s made as the Voice of the Auburn Tigers, including wins such as last year’s Iron Bowl and losses such as this year’s South Carolina game.

“It was my first Iron Bowl as Auburn’s voice and I was thrilled. I remember walking from the stadium, thinking to myself, how blessed I am to be in this position, how blessed I was to be able to call that football game, and call it for Auburn,” Burcham said. “And we all know how frustrating the South Carolina game was because Auburn should’ve won that game. Even if the game isn’t going well for Auburn, a great part of the priority of it is being able to do this job and to do it to the very best of my ability.”

Two-time Auburn alumna Dr. Jan Gunnels Burcham is an early childhood education professor at Columbus State University, where she holds the Fletcher Distinguished Chair in Teacher Education and serves as associate dean for education in the College of Education and Health Professions. Burcham has taught in public schools and higher education institutions, and her work on early childhood education is shared around the world.

Burcham also collaborated with Auburn University to develop a curriculum for preschool children in China and traveled to Beijing to conduct professional development for teachers, as well as presented at the Oxford Round Table on Early Childhood Education at Oxford University in England.

“That really opened my eyes tremendously about how others view our country and it was amazing to be able to have that experience. It is so important that we give back and help others,” Burcham said. “My whole career has been about improving teaching and learning that’s done in schools and I’m grateful to be able to continue that. Mentoring is a part of who I am and what I do, and I try to find avenues for that wherever they may be.”

Along with sharing stories of their work and passions, the Burchams also talked about their new family born out of friendship and loss. Rod Bramblett, the late voice of the Auburn Tigers preceding Burcham, and his wife Paula died in May of 2019. Just months before their death, the Brambletts asked the Burchams to become guardians of their children should anything happen to them. The Bramblett’s daughter, Shelby, is studying education at Auburn University, while their son, Joshua, is in high school.

“Jan and Andy are two of the finest people you could ever hope to know. They are accomplished professionals with impressive titles, but perhaps their newest title of guardians is the most important of all,” said College of Human Sciences Dean Susan Hubbard, who is also a longtime friend of the Burchams. “Andy and Rod spent more than 20 years working and traveling together and were truly best friends. Stepping into the Voice of the Auburn Tigers and becoming a new family with Shelby and Joshua is certainly a season Andy and Jan didn’t see coming, but it’s one they’re living out beautifully.”

The Women’s Philanthropy Board virtual tailgate was joined by more than 150 members of the Auburn Family, a testament to tailgating’s power to bring people together each fall, even if it is through a screen.

For more information about the Women’s Philanthropy Board, the flagship program of the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, visit their website.