Dr. Jack O. Burns
Vice President Emeritus for Academic Affairs and Research, University of Colorado System
Professor, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado


Photo of Dr. Jack Burns

Jack O. Burns

Jack Burns is a Professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder. He is also Vice President Emeritus for Academic Affairs and Research for the CU System.

Burns received his B.S. degree, magna cum laude, in Astrophysics from the University of Massachusetts in 1974. He was awarded an M.S. degree in 1976 and a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1978 from Indiana University.

Burns has held a variety of leadership positions in higher education. From December 2001 through 2005 he served as Vice President for Academic Affairs & Research for the University of Colorado System. Burns provided leadership in the University’s efforts to promote teaching, research, creative work, technology transfer, and public service for CU and to champion ethnic and cultural diversity. Burns was Vice Provost for Research at the University of Missouri - Columbia from 1997 through 2001. He was responsible for leadership and administration of the research and technology development mission of the university’s 12 colleges and 7 interdisciplinary research centers.

Earlier in his career, Burns spent nearly twenty years in New Mexico. He was Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University (NMSU). He helped to oversee a budget of over $65 million for 23 academic departments and 350 faculty. Burns was Department Head and Professor in the Department of Astronomy at New Mexico State University from 1989 until 1996 when department funding increased by a factor of 45, construction of the $50 million Apache Point Observatory was completed, and the Department raised $1 million for an endowed chair. During his tenure at the University of New Mexico from 1980 to 1989, Burns served as the Director of the Institute for Astrophysics and was a Presidential Fellow. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory from 1978 to 1980.

Burns has 345 publications in refereed journals, books, and in conference proceedings and abstracts (as listed in NASA’s Astrophysics Data System). His research has been featured in articles and on the covers of Scientific American, Nature, and Science. His teaching and research focus on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, supercomputer numerical simulations, astrophysics from the Moon, and public policy issues in higher education and science. Burns is director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR), a $6.5 million center recently awarded by the NASA Lunar Science Institute. Burns is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Burns exerts leadership at the national and state levels in a wide variety of forms. Currently, Burns serves as Chair of the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee and also chairs the American Astronomical Society’s Committee on Science and Public Policy. He has served as Chair of the National Forum for System Chief Academic Officers, as a member of the Executive Committees for the NASULGC Council on Academic Affairs and the Council on Research Policy & Graduate Education, as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Women and Information Technology, as Chair of the Board of Directors of the CU University Licensing Equity Holding Inc., as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Colorado Science Forum, and as Chair of the Southwest Regional Space Task Force.