St. Mark’s College at UBC is pleased to announce Dr. Paul Burns — Professor Emeritus and an academic leader whose commitment to his students and to the lifelong pursuit of learning has made him an inspiration to all — will be awarded the institution’s highest honour, the degree Doctor of Sacred Letters, honoris causa.
The degree will be conferred by the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver and Chancellor of St. Mark’s College, at the College’s rescheduled 2020 Convocation, which has been postponed due to COVID-19.
As a staple of the St. Mark’s College community for more than 45 years, Paul’s tenure honoured the College’s charter through his teaching of historical theology. These included courses in Theology and Spirituality of significant people such as Origen, Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, Augustine of Hippo, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. Paul was also Principal of St. Mark’s College on three separate occasions: from 1974 to 1980, from 1984 until 1990 and from 2013 to 2014. During the latter term, he also served as President of Corpus Christi College. At the time of his retirement in 2019, Paul was the Dean of Liberal Arts at Corpus Christi College, where he oversaw a curriculum emphasizing the liberal arts grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition.
“Over the course of his more than forty-five years of association with St. Mark’s and, later, Corpus Christi College, Dr. Paul Burns has embodied the very highest values of the Colleges. As a scholar, a teacher and an administrator, he has led with the motto of the Congregation of St. Basil as his guide, ‘Teach me goodness, discipline and knowledge’ from the Book of Proverbs. And in that same Basilian higher educational tradition, he has been able to adapt to the changing circumstances of the ‘Catholic centre’ of the UBC, moving with the times in order to offer both the university and the Colleges what they needed, when it needed it. Honouring Paul with an honorary doctorate is not only a good thing to do, it is the right thing to do, and we as a college community join with Paul and his wife Maureen Lyons in joyful celebration of this well deserved honour,” said Dr. Peter Meehan, President and Vice Chancellor, Corpus Christi - St. Mark’s College at UBC.
Paul’s storied career included major contributions to UBC, where he taught World Religions and the History of Christian Thought for 15 years, culminating with him earning UBC’s University Teaching Prize in 1995. In his time at UBC, he started a BA Majors program devoted to Religion, Literature and the Arts.
For 17 years, Paul was involved with the Arts One Program at UBC. In two terms as Chair, he steered Arts One through two external reviews. He argued for three streams: a) the traditional Great Books of Western culture; b) Comparative Study of Western culture with one of Indigenous or one of the Asian cultures; and c) Dialogues between the Arts and Sciences.
Paul holds multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Toronto, a B. Litt. in History of Christian Thought from Oxford, a S.T.B. in Theology from the University of St. Michael’s College, a M.A. in Classics from the University of Toronto and a B.A. (Honors) in Classics from the University of Toronto.
ABOUT ST. MARK’S COLLEGE AT UBC
St. Mark's College is a member of the Community of St. Mark's at UBC, which comprises St. Mark's College, Corpus Christi College, and St. Mark's Parish. As the affiliated Catholic Theological College of the University of British Columbia (UBC), St. Mark's College offers a variety of academic programs and continuing education opportunities for Catholics and non-Catholics. Together with Corpus Christi College, St. Mark's College is a centre of excellence for undergraduate and graduate Catholic education in British Columbia.
St. Mark's is committed to promoting an authentic Christian humanism, marked by the pursuit of academic excellence and animated by the joy of searching for, discovering, and communicating truth in every field of knowledge. The College prepares graduates who continually strive to integrate and synthesize faith and reason so that they will serve society charged with a commitment to think rigorously, to act justly and to serve faithfully.
The College offers programs that are grounded in the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition, including a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Culture for aspiring Catholic teachers; Master's degrees in Religious Education, Theological Studies, Pastoral Studies and Catholic Leadership; and engaging public lectures and professional development opportunities addressing faith leading to understanding.
Kerilee Raven, Communications, St. Mark’s College at UBC