Timothy Burdick ’89, MED ’02, to Direct Outdoor Programs

The alumnus brings expertise in wilderness medicine, risk management, and outdoor learning.

Physician and lifelong outdoorsman Timothy Burdick ’89, MED ’02, has been named director of outdoor programs, Interim Dean of the College Kathryn Lively announced today. 

“Tim brings everything we could ask for in a leader of outdoor programs, and I am delighted that he will be returning to Hanover,” says Lively. “He knows firsthand how much outdoor experiences can contribute to student learning and community, and he’s profoundly committed to sharing and broadening Dartmouth’s long tradition of outdoor leadership.”

Burdick will oversee the Outdoor Programs Office (OPO), which serves as an administrative umbrella for and facilitator of outdoor activities for the Dartmouth community, including the student-led Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) and Ledyard Canoe Club, the Second College Grant, and Mount Moosilauke and the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. 

Burdick says the directorship is “a unique opportunity to combine my outdoor passion and experience, my interest in wilderness medicine and risk management, and my leadership and management skills—all back at my alma mater. I am so excited to follow in the footsteps of previous outdoor programs leaders.” 

He begins the role Aug. 10—“just in time for the Class of 2022 first-year trips,” he says.

On one level, returning to Dartmouth to lead OPO might seem like a strange move for someone who has built a career as a physician-leader. But Burdick has also organized his life around the outdoors. As a boy, he and his family spent summers camping in Maine and across Europe, and he was drawn to Dartmouth because of its outdoor opportunities. He held leadership roles in Cabin and Trail, the Ledyard Canoe Club, the Mountaineering Club, Ski Patrol, and DOC first-year trips. Through the DOC, he says, “I found something I had never experienced in my life previously—kindred spirits. I found others like me—and some substantially different from me—who appreciated me for my outdoor passions. I was given the first real responsibilities of adulthood. I felt like what I did mattered.

His enthusiasm for the outdoors extended to his academic experience, as well. He majored in earth sciences and geography modified with environmental studies, and, he says, “selected my classes based on whether they had a field studies component.” 

He participated in the earth science department’s off-campus program across the western United States, known as the Stretch; traveled to Kenya with the environmental studies program, where he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and conducted field research on the flora and fauna of Mount Kenya; and wrote a senior thesis based on field work—“aka backpacking”—in Wyoming’s Absaroka Range.

After Dartmouth, he spent five years teaching science and outdoor education, and earned a master’s of science in forestry at Virginia Tech before returning to Hanover as a medical student.

In medical school, he says, “I studied hard, but I spent as much time volunteering with the search-and-rescue team and teaching wilderness medicine regionally.” He joined the Wilderness Medical Society, serving on its board of directors as national student leader. 

After completing his residency in family medicine, he moved to Vermont, where he joined the Stowe Mountain Rescue team as a medical officer, participating in more than 50 rescues. 

At the same time, he worked with the University of Vermont-affiliated Central Vermont Medical Center on the transition to electronic health records and taught as an assistant professor at the UVM College of Medicine. In 2013, he moved to Oregon, where he served as chief research informatics officer and assistant professor at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland. During that time, he earned his MBA at OHSU/Portland State University, and in 2016 returned to New Hampshire as associate medical director and clinical leader at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester and as an assistant professor at the Geisel School of Medicine.

Then, last fall, he learned that the previous director of outdoor programs, Dan Nelson ’75, would be retiring after the dedication of the new Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, whose construction Nelson had spearheaded. Burdick quickly realized he wanted the job.

“I knew I would regret not applying if I let the chance pass by,” he says. 

“I am humbled at the selection. The alumni, current students, and staff are strong; I will be on a great team. And thankfully my wife and two kids have been incredibly supportive of this decision.”

The search for the new OPO director was led by Eric Ramsey, the associate dean for student life. “The search committee was impressed with Tim’s passion for outdoor activities and experiential education, his experience in risk management and wilderness medicine, and his leadership and managerial skills,” Ramsey says. “Tim recognizes the long legacy of excellence in our outdoor programs and also believes that great contributions to Dartmouth—and the world—are ahead. I am excited to welcome Tim back to Robinson Hall.”

The search committee included John Brady ’19, incoming president of the DOC; Mallory Byrd ’19, outgoing president of the DOC; Jay Davis ’90, director of the First-Year Student Enrichment Program; Rosi Kerr ’97, director of sustainability; Viva Hardigg ’84; Tim McNamara ’78, associate director of campus services and chair of the Second College Grant management committee; and Susan Morrill, office manager, OPO.

Hannah Silverstein can be reached at [email protected]