Joe Burns joined the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics in 1966. A world-renowned planetary scientist specializing in celestial mechanics, Joe is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also an honorary fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Joe served on the NASA imaging teams for the Cassini (Saturn), Galileo (Jupiter) and Rosetta (Comet) missions. He is the Irving P. Church Professor of Engineering and Professor of Astronomy and served as the Vice Provost for Physical Sciences and Engineering 2003-2007.
As Dean, Joe maintained respectful and collaborative relationships with faculty, administrators, trustees, staff, and students. He responded graciously and quickly to concerns brought to him by faculty including numerous matters relating to appeals, academic conduct, and tenure. Joe served proudly and conscientiously on the search committee that selected Elizabeth Garrett. He elevated the level of discussion about faculty renewal and regularly staged Faculty Forums on key campus issues. Under Joe’s leadership the University Faculty Committee worked to improve shared governance and the degree of transparency exercised by the administration. The key to his success as Dean stemmed from the fact that everybody loved working with Joe.