Memorial fund honors U alum killed Sept. 11

Tom Burnett Jr., a University alumnus who is thought to have played a role in diverting terrorists’ plans in the Sept. 11 attacks, was honored Saturday in a ceremony announcing the establishment of a memorial fund in his name.

Burnett’s relatives joined University President Mark Yudof in a pregame ceremony at the Metrodome recognizing both the victims and rescue workers in the New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania crashes.

With the help of some of the other passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93, Burnett is believed to have saved the plane from hitting a national landmark. The plane instead slammed into a Pennsylvania field.

“The University of Minnesota is proud to call Tom Burnett Jr. one of its own,” Yudof has said. “This fund is a fitting memorial to a man who cared deeply about his fellow human beings and who, by his actions, has earned the nation’s everlasting gratitude.”

The Thomas E. Burnett Jr. Memorial Fund is meant to benefit University students and encourage leadership.

Burnett, originally from Bloomington, Minn., graduated in 1986 from the Carlson School of Management. The 38-year-old senior vice president of Thoratec Corp. – a medical research and development company – lived with his wife Deena and three daughters in San Ramon, Calif.

Donations to the fund can be made through the University of Minnesota Foundation at (612) 624-3333 or (800) 775-2187 or online at

– Shira Kantor