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City, PSU celebrate Scott Burns Day, Oct. 24
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications
Posted: October 24, 2013

(Portland, Ore.) October 24, 2013 - Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Portland State University President Wim Wiewel have proclaimed Thursday, October 24, 2013 "Scott Burns Day," to recognize the career of longtime PSU geology faculty member Scott F. Burns. Burns will retire at the end of 2013 after more than 40 years of teaching—the past 24 at PSU.

"Scott Burns has distinguished himself as a scholar and advocate in the field of geology and as a member of the Portland State community," said PSU President Wim Wiewel. "His passion for teaching and tireless spirit of service have left an indelible impression on his students and colleagues. In recognition of his outstanding career I proclaim October 24 as "Scott Burns Day" at PSU."

Prof. Burns’s legacy reflects his scholarship, mentoring and service in advancing the field of geosciences: from earthquakes and landslides to radon hazards the aftermath of the Missoula Floods, and the Willamette Valley’s Jory soils that help produce Oregon’s famed pinot noir wines. In year, he lobbied successfully to have the state legislature name the Jory series Oregon's official soil.

The Mayoral Proclamation states, in part, "Whereas, applying the results of his and his students' research, Scott has worked endlessly to bring public and governemental attention to geologic hazards in the City of Portland and the surrounding region, particularly those of landslides and radon; including his many television and radio appearances, as neither rain nor snow nor gloom of late night or early morning can stay this messenger...."


An indefatigable presenter, Burns has delivered hundreds of talks over the years in both academic settings and to the community. He is a ubiquitous presence in local television news coverage of earthquakes, landslides, and other natural calamities. Burns has given hundreds of interviews to print and broadcast media, discussing natural hazards in Oregon and beyond.

Scott Burns joined the Department of Geology at Portland State University in 1990 as an assistant professor. His career of more than 40 years includes positions at institutions in Colorado, Louisiana, Washington, and in New Zealand and Switzerland. He has published dozens of articles and chapters, co-authored with Marjorie Burns (no relation) of Cataclysms on the Columbia: The Great Missoula Floods, and edited Environmental, Groundwater and Engineering Geology: Applications from Oregon.

Scott was awarded the 2011 Geological Society of America’s Public Service Award and was also selected as the GSA's 2011-2012 Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer. In 2007 he received PSU's George C. Hoffmann Award for Faculty Excellence.

He earned a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and master's of Physical Science at Stanford University and a doctorate in Geology at the University of Colorado.

Outside of his work at PSU, Burns is active with numerous community organizations as a volunteer and philanthropist, including the Downtown Portland Rotary Club. He is an avid basketball fan, and is a regular at pickup games with faculty and staff at the Rec Center, where his prowess as a pure shooter provides an ongoing education for opposing players.

"The Slippery Slope: A Career in the Mud"
A celebration of Scott Burns' work and service
7 - 9 p.m., Thursday, October 24, 2013
PSU Stott Center, 930 S.W. Hall St., Portland, OR