Burbank, Rex J. (1925-2009)

Burbank, Rex J. (1925-2009)

Date Updated




Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU

1989 (to FERP); 1992 (Full Ret.)

Educational Background

University of Michigan, 1960 Ed.D

University of Michigan, 1952 MA

University of Michigan, 1950 BA

Teaching Experience

San Jose State University, 1959-1992

Mankato State University (MN), 1957-1959

Flint Junior College, 1953-1956

Administrative and Professional Experience

Consultant, College Entrance Examination Board, 1961‑1976.

Committee to Review Tests in English, Educational Testing Service Test Development Committees‑‑(SAT‑verbal, AP English, e.g.) ETS, Princeton, NJ.

Test Development Committee Chair, CSU‑‑English tests Chief Reader‑‑Essay Exams, CSU, Nevada Board of Education, etc.

Selected Publications


Thornton Wilder, 1962

Sherwood Anderson, 1964

Idea and Form: Readings for Writing, 1966

The Literature of Early America, 1967

The Literature of the American Renaissance, 1969

Literature of the American Realistic Period, 1970

Personal Commentary

Before coming to San Jose in 1959, Rex Burbank had taught in schools and colleges for 8 years in his native state of Michigan, where he was born in 1925, and in Minnesota. He and his wife brought their two children to California thinking they would stay 2 or 3 years and then return to the Midwest, where life was "real" and "earnest." Their third child was born in 1962. When they returned to Michigan in 1964 for a visit and a job interview, they realized that San Jose was where they wanted to live, and SJSU was where Rex wanted to be as an English professor. Except for a year (1968‑69) away on a Fulbright lectureship in Thailand, the family lived in Los Gatos until Rex retired in 1992.

At SJSU Rex taught the usual courses in freshman composition for the first 2 or 3 years. In 1962, he published his first book, Thornton Wilder, a critical biography that enjoyed favorable review in both popular and professional publications. In that year he became graduate coordinator in the English Department, which led to his appointment as assistant graduate dean. In that year he also began his long "career" in English testing as reader and developer of tests for the College Entrance Examination Board and the Educational Testing Service and as supervisor of readings of student essay tests. When the CSU launched its testing programs, the Chancellor's office, on the recommendation of the College Board and ETS, asked him to chair committees to design, administer, and evaluate tests and test results. Rex's "career" in testing lasted for 28 years.

Success of Thornton Wilder prompted the publisher to ask for another book, and in 1966 Sherwood Anderson was published. A series of textbooks followed, a composition text and three anthologies in American literature. Upon return from Thailand in 1969, and a wonderful family journey around the world, Rex moved into the Administration Building as Assistant Academic Vice President, temporarily filling in for Dr. H. Brett Melendy, who was replacing the Academic Vice President, Dr. Hobert Burns. Burns had been appointed interim University president after the departure of President Robert Clark. With the departure of Dr. Melendy to Hawaii, Rex stayed on as Assistant Academic Vice President under Burns, who returned to his permanent position as AVP after the appointment of John Bunzel as President. The AAVP position was renamed Dean of Faculty; in 1972 Rex resigned as dean in order to devote his time to teaching American literature again and to helping develop the burgeoning new State English testing programs, including the English Equivalency Examination and the English Placement Test. He acted as Chief Reader for these programs for 5 years, administering the reading of the student essays written for the tests. During his last 6 years at SJSU, he served as chair of the Humanities Department, where he designed new courses and curricula and taught American studies.

Date Completed: 9/96

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Burbank, Rex J. (1925-2009)