By Robert Newton
I have the honour to present to you Cecil Scott Burgess, Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Professor Burgess belongs to a professional group whose job it is to combine beauty with functional utility in our buildings. During his 27 years on the staff of the University of Alberta he not only built himself solidly into its physical structure but also into the hearts of his colleagues and students.
Born on October 4, 1870, in Bombay, where his father was Director of the Archaeological Survey of India, Professor Burgess was educated in Edinburgh. There, too, he gained his technical training, in the offices of a number of distinguished architects, among them Sir George Washington Browne. Later he practised in London, Liverpool,York, and Montreal. From a teaching post in McGill University he came to the University of Alberta in 1913 as Professor of Architecture, a post he held until his retirement in 1940. There was an early temporary break in his service here, when he had leave for active service in the First World War.
While Professor of Architecture, he designed Pembina Hall and collaborated with other architects in the construction of the Arts and Science and Medical buildings.
His influence on campus architecture did not cease with his official retirement, for he left students to follow in his steps. He speaks through their work, for example, in the Rutherford Library and the Students' Union buildings. Nor did his own professional activity end in 1940. Since then he designed the Soldiers' Civil Reestablishment Hospital in Edmonton, and various other buildings, and acted as consulting architect to the Government of Alberta for the Administration Offices in Edmonton.
The Psalmist sang: "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish though the work of our hands upon us." Professor Burgess has given us a well-established heritage of beauty, the work of his hands, and the record of a personal life to match his work. It has always been a pleasure to know and to work with this fine gentleman. One enjoys his quiet courtesy and appreciates the firmness and reliability underneath. He wears well, in every sense of that expression. Our confident hope is that we many continue to be enriched by his presence and that he may continue to enjoy his friends and the work of his hands for a long time.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you for the degree of Doctor of Laws. HONORIS CAUSA. Professor Emeritus Cecil Scott Burgess.
Published Fall/Winter 1958.