This weekend we were saddened to learn of the passing of Burdett Loomis, a beloved professor emeritus of political science, a devoted mentor and a pillar in our community for more than 40 years.
As much as any professor in recent memory, Bird embodied KU’s mission of education, service and research. As an educator, he inspired students and positioned them for successful careers. As a public servant, he was intensely devoted to KU and Lawrence. As a researcher, he took pride in scholarship that was accessible and relevant, which made him a frequent source for policymakers, journalists and commentators across the nation who turned to him for his insights.
The outpouring of love and respect for Bird during the past day has been remarkable, and it confirms the impact he had on students, colleagues, elected officials and journalists who had the pleasure of engaging with him. As educators, we are are especially moved by the stories of his former students, hundreds of whom got their first internship or job through the Washington, D.C., and Topeka internship programs that Bird developed. These programs today stand among the best of their kind nationally.
Simply put, it’s hard to imagine the University of Kansas – past or present – without Bird. He stands among the giants in KU history, and his passing is a loss for the entire community. May we honor his legacy by continuing our university’s commitment to educating and mentoring students, and to scholarship that makes a difference in the world.
There undoubtedly will continue to be more thorough celebrations of Bird’s career and life in the days ahead. In the meantime, on behalf of the entire university, I want to offer my most sincere condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and students during this difficult time.
Douglas A. Girod