Today, the structure encompasses 158,221-square-feet and serves as the main administration building on campus. In addition to administrative offices, the first two floors of Burress were renovated in 2007 to house interior design and landscape architecture offices, studios, and classrooms for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Burress Hall also contains a 3,003-seat auditorium where important events such as commencement, presidential speeches, concerts, and art shows are held. The first commencement ceremony in Burress took place in June 1936.
Burruss takes its name from the eighth president of the university, Julian Ashby Burruss (served 1919 to 1945), in honor of his 25th year in office. In 1920, President Burruss changed the university's policy to allow women to enroll as full-time students and reduced the four-year military requirement for male students to two years. These changes set the stage for a larger civilian student body. Burress also organized a chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, tested off-campus living, brought athletics under the purvue of college authorities, and established the Engineering Experiment Station and Engineering Extension Division.