Saturday, December 10, 2016

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Scott Burns Scott Burns

In Memoriam: Scott Burns

Burns changed the face of the university in the 19 years he worked here.

Colleagues across campus mourn the loss of Scott Burns, 52, who died suddenly yesterday morning.

He will be remembered for his astute leadership, warmth and love for his family.

"Scott was simply and purely a good man who loved this university and worked tirelessly to support every part of the institution," said Sally Roush, vice president of Business and Financial Affairs.  "He was smart and thoughtful and funny and wise.  His contributions to the university were extraordinary. There are no words to express how much we will miss him."

Burns is survived by his wife, Catherine, and two daughters, Emily and Hannah. 

“He loved his family so much and always had a big smile on his face because of them,” said Elvira McCalip, director of the SDSU Center for Human Resources.  “He is such a special man and he will be missed by so many people.  I feel privileged to call him a friend.”

SDSU family

Burns, associate vice president for financial operations, worked at SDSU since 1993 in various management positions within Business and Financial Affairs. He referred to himself as "two times an Aztec," having received two degrees from SDSU – a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1985 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1998.

He played a critical role at SDSU and leaves a personal imprint on many programs and events.

When His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visited SDSU in April, Burns gave concluding remarks to the standing-room only audience at Viejas Arena.  When he walked off the dais, the Dalai Lama presented him a khata, a Tibetan scarf that symbolizes purity and compassion.

“It was very special to witness, and I’m sure it was a memorable experience for Scott,” said Melissa Henss, assistant director of presidential events, who worked closely with Burns in preparation for the Dalai Lama’s visit. “I would always walk away from my meetings with Scott feeling at ease because he was incredibly approachable and had such a warm way about him.”

With sensitivity and effectiveness, Burns guided efforts to honor three engineering professors who died tragically in 1996.

“Scott was passionate in the completion of the memorial,” said David Hayhurst, dean of the College of Engineering, about the three granite structures located in a tranquil terrace nestled between the Engineering and Life Sciences North buildings.  “Alongside his loyalty to SDSU as an employer was a deep sense of pride for SDSU as his alma mater.”

National profile

Burns held leadership roles in several higher education professional organizations and is past president of the Pacific Coast Region of the Association of Higher Education Facility Officers.

He was frequently sought by universities and conference organizers across the country for presentations and expert consultations.

Prior to joining SDSU, Burns worked as a construction manager and design engineer in private industry and for the U.S. Navy. 


Information about a campus memorial service will be posted here when it becomes available.

Remembering Scott Burns