Bank of New York is searching for a new credit card chief after the resignation this month of Robert Burke, a highly respected 26-year industry veteran.

Mr. Burke, 56, left his post as chairman of Bank of New York Delaware, the parent company's credit card unit, to pursue part-time consulting opportunities.

Alan Griffith, a vice chairman of Bank of New York, has temporarily assumed Mr. Burke's former responsibilities.

"Robert Burke is universally respected as a rock-solid management executive," said Donald J. Auriemma, president of Auriemma Consulting Group in Westbury, N.Y., who has consulted for the bank. "It is difficult to even find people more professional than he."

Industry analysts have said that Mr. Burke's departure is unlikely to lessen the bank's emphasis on credit cards, one of its most lucrative divisions. The Nilson Report, an industry newsletter based in Oxnard, Calif., ranked Bank of New York as the 13th-largest U.S. credit card organization for 1994, with about 8.1 million cards in circulation.

The bank's outstanding loans grew from $900 million in 1987, the start of Mr. Burke's tenure, to $7.6 billion last year, in what he called a "very competitive environment."

Mr. Auriemma characterized Bank of New York as a "quiet but an extremely successful bank card issuer."

Mr. Burke, who started at Bank of New York in March 1987, said he "looks back with pride" on his time there, describing it as "fruitful and profitable for everybody."

His achievements included broadening the bank's card lineup to include no-fee cards with grace periods and low interest charges. Previous offerings had lacked a grace period, alienating many potential customers.

His work at Bank of New York, Mr. Burke said, enabled him to "hone my marketing skills." He added that he "grew substantially" in his ability to manage large numbers of people.

Before joining Bank of New York, Mr. Burke was a senior vice president in First Chicago Corp.'s credit operations. He worked previously as vice president and corporate secretary at the former BancSystems Association Inc., a Cleveland-based processing association.

Bank of New York joins Bank of America in searching for a top credit card executive. Robert Sznewajs left the 11th-leading credit card issuer last year to become vice chairman of U.S. Bancorp in Portland, Ore. Bank of America's credit card division remains under the supervision of James Jones.

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