The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837, and the history of the University's schools and colleges. This project is part of a larger effort to prepare resources for the University's bicentennial in 2017. Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.

Memoir

Arthur W. Burks
Regents' Proceedings 711

Arthur W Burks, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Professor of Philosophy, retired from active faculty status as of May 31, 1986.

Professor Burks received his B.A. degree in mathematics from De Pauw University in 1936, his M.A. degree in philosophy in 1937 and his Ph.D. degree in philosophy from The University of Michigan in 1941. He began his career as an instructor at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, in 1941. Professor Burks joined the Philosophy Department of The University of Michigan as an assistant professor in 1946 and became a professor in 1954. In 1984 he became a professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

As a philosopher, Professor Burks did pioneering work in the logic of causality and probability, the foundation of semiotics, and the philosophical applications of computer science. His crowning achievement in philosophy is his book, published in 1979, entitled, Chance, Cause, and Reason. He served as president of the American Philosophical Association, the Western Division, 1972-73, and as president of the Philosophy of Science Association, 1975-76.

From March through August 1946, and in 1948, Professor Burks worked with John von Neumann and Herman Godstine in early development of the logical design on an electronic digital computer. This research was regarded as the basic foundation for the entire field. He later founded a research group at The University of Michigan on the logic of computers. During his career, Professor Burks has received many additional awards which include the Louis E. Levy gold medal of the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1956 for an article entitled, "The Folded Tree," the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from The University of Michigan in 1970, the Henry Russel Lecturer during the 1977-78 academic year, the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1978, and the Distinguished Senior Faculty Lecturer, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, in the Fall of 1982. On November 10, 1982, the governing board of the IEEE Computer Society recognized Professor Burks by granting him the Computer Pioneer Award for his early work in electronic computer logic design.

Professor Burks has also taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the University of Illinois, the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpour, India, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California. He was awarded a Doctor of Science by De Pauw University in 1973, and has been honored through election to many societies, including Phi Beta Kappa and Eta Kappa Nu. He has published extensively in the computer field, and also in philosophy.

The Regents now salute this distinguished educator and scholar for his dedicated service by naming him Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy.

Regents’ Proceedings, June 1986, Page 711