The University of Iowa

Remembering Burns Weston

November 4th, 2015
Photo of Burns Weston

A memorial service in honor of Weston will be held at the University of Iowa College of Law on December 5, 2015, from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Donations in Weston’s honor will be accepted at the Iowa Law School Foundation for the benefit of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, 130 Byington Road, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Burns Weston was involved with the university for nearly 50 years, including as the founder of UICHR which I direct. He lived a rich full life dedicated to the cause of international justice. His passing is a personal loss to me as well since he was my mentor for almost 30 years.  
     --Dean Adrien K. Wing, Associate Dean for International Programs at UI College of Law and Director UI Center for Human Rights

Burns Weston was not only a tenacious advocate for preserving the dignity of every human being and elevating the human condition, but he was also my dear friend and confidante for the past 21 years.  Burns’ first calling was as a concert pianist, and his fusion of the arts and human rights that we both shared seems to have gotten its start while as an undergraduate at his beloved Oberlin College. I will miss the times we spent outside of academia enjoying the fine arts, film, and music as they related to human rights.  He was my “buddy” as much, if not more so, than a beloved colleague.
     --Professor Greg Hamot, College of Education and UICHR Associate Director

Burns believed passionately in the inherent and inalienable value of every human being. Throughout his life he was a powerful intellectual force for the promotion of human rights as a guiding conceptual framework for government policy, and for each of us as we strive to better our own communities. He spoke truth to power using his extraordinarily elegant and  insightful voice to empower and enhance the abilities of others. To his students he was an inspiring, and necessarily demanding, mentor, who gave generously of his time and insights to launch thousands of careers in international law and human rights advocacy.  He challenged all of us to be our best selves and to use our talents and privileges to make the world more just.  Burns possessed an exceptional lifeforce that will live on through the enormous legacy of knowledge he produced for the world, and the many, many lives lived in greater dignity because of his presence in the world.
--Amy Weismann, Assistant Director, UI Center for Human Rights

Some may not know, but few would be surprised to learn, that Burns was as passionate about music, art, and nature as he was about human rights and the law.  His expectations were high, his criticisms sharp, and his quest for a better future never-ending.  I have a feeling that somewhere in the great unknown he’s already sitting at his keyboard, hard at work on the next book.
     --Joan Kjaer, International Programs, formerly of Iowa Public Radio

Professor Burns Weston passed away on October 28, 2015. His vision for the public understanding of human rights issues helped lay the foundation for the creation of the UI Center for Human Rights, which for many years was located in International Programs. Hear Burns describe the origins of the UI Center for Human Rights in this audio clip, excerpted from a 2009 WorldCanvass show.

Additional memories of Burns Weston are available from the UI College of Law and the UI Center for Human Rights.