College of Education and Human Development

College of Education and Human Development


2009 Distinguished Alumnus: Elsie Palmer Burkhalter


Elsie Palmer Burkhalter

Mrs. Burkhalter or "Ms. Elsie" as she is fondly called received her Masters of Education degree in Education and Social Sciences from Southeastern in 1976. She also received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Southern University in Baton Rouge.


She is a lifelong resident of St. Tammany Parish where she has served as President of the St. Tammany Federation of Teachers and School Employees since the union received its charter in 1979. She is also a vice president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and is a member of the AFT Teachers program and policy council. Her tireless work on behalf of this organization has earned her recognition for Outstanding Leadership, Legislative Leadership and Outstanding Achievement in the Production of Newsletters. Additionally, Mrs. Burkhalter received the "Extra Mile Award" from the St. Tammany Parish School for her leadership in the parish following Hurricane Katrina. She is in demand as a workshop presenter and speaker for many organizations in the fields of education and politics. She was also chosen by New Orleans Magazine as one of their "50 People to Watch."


Mrs. Burkhalter has been active in local politics, serving on the Slidell City Council from 2002 to 2006, where she held the positions of vice President and president.  She has been involved in national politics, serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for the past six conventions.  She represented the American Federation of Teachers on President Clinton's Focus Group fro education. She is a member of the Louisiana Center of Women and Government and the Workforce Investment Board.


She also served Southeastern Louisiana University and its sister schools in a very special role as Chair of the University of Louisiana System's Board of Supervisors. She  served two terms in this position and is the first female and the first African-American to lead the board of the state's largest university system.  When Ms. Elsie was re-elected as chairman she commented, " is my passion," and that is truly evidenced in her commitment to teachers and students all across Louisiana.


She has indeed been a friend to Southeastern and continues to be an advocate for education.