In memoriam: Eunice Burns (MPA ’70), civil servant, community leader, environmental advocate

October 24, 2016

We are deeply saddened to report that Eunice Burns (MPA ’70)—an Ann Arbor civil servant, a long-standing community and environmental leader, and a beloved alumna of the Ford School—passed away on October 20, 2016 at the age of 93.

Burns, a mother of four, first ran for Ann Arbor City Council in 1961, going door to door to speak with members of the community about her policy priorities. Among her priorities was passing a fair housing ordinance for the city. Ann Arbor's Fair Housing ordinance, the first such ordinance in the state of Michigan, passed during Burns’ second term on council.

Burns came to the Institute of Public Policy Studies (IPPS), predecessor to the Ford School, to earn a master’s degree in public administration in 1968. After graduation in 1970, she worked at the University of Michigan, where she chaired the U-M Commission for Women and helped to craft recommendations for implementing Title IX in the wake of its passage. In 1981, Burns co-founded Huron River Day, an annual event that emphasizes the importance of water quality. 

On Burns’ 90th birthday, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje proclaimed her the “Yes, You!” Torch Bearer for a lifetime of service. Read more about Eunice Burns’ life and career in:

At the Ford School, Burns’ legacy will continue far into the future through the Eunice Burns Fund for Water Policy Education, which supports educational and research activities related to water and environmental policy and sustainability.

The fund was established by Burns’ children on her 90th birthday to honor their mother’s lifelong commitment to family, community, and the environment. 

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate gifts to this fund and to the Huron River Watershed Council.