First Chancellor dies at 82

By Karen Poh
VICTORIA University’s Acting Vice Chancellor Professor John McCallum has paid tribute to the university’s first Chancellor, Creighton Burns.
Mr Burns died on 20 January in Cabrini Hospital aged 82 after a long illness. Prof McCallum said the university community was saddened by the news.
Mr Burns was appointed Chancellor in 1990, and held the position until 1994 when he resigned to devote more time to his young family.
“He was a very active Chancellor,” Prof McCallum said.
“He oversaw the amalgamation of the Western Institute and Footscray Institute of Technology, and successfully dealt with the complex process of amalgamating two institutions.
“He believed the people of western Melbourne deserved similar access to the university education he had enjoyed.”
At his inauguration speech, Mr Burns identified the need for Victoria University to pursue the path to truth and excellence, and proposed three methods to achieve this: scholarly precept, masterly demonstration and Socratic inquiry.
In his speech, Mr Burns said, “If we truly aspire to the status and tradition of the great universities of western civilisation, we are obliged to question the conventional wisdom in all our disciplines.
“To ask not just ‘What do we know?’ or ‘How is it done?’ or even ‘Why is it so?’, but rather the more fundamental question, ‘Is it so?’” he said.
In recognition of his service to the community, particularly in the provision of university education to the people of western Melbourne and his contributions to scholarship, Mr Burns was made the Honorary Doctor of Letters at Victoria University in 1995.
He was named one of Victoria University’s 90 Years, 90 Legends in 2006.
“Creighton Burns made an enormous contribution to our university. Our deepest sympathies go to his family at this time of loss,” Prof McCallum said.