Arthur Newcombe Bourns, OC, FRSC, professor of chemistry, university administrator (born 8 December 1919 in Petitcodiac, NB; died 29 May 2015 in Burlington, ON). Educated at Acadia and McGill universities (PhD, chemistry), he began teaching at Acadia University and the University of Saskatchewan and then taught at McMaster University for 35 years. An inspiring teacher and a researcher internationally known for his contributions to physical organic chemistry, he also showed exceptional administrative skills. He became successively graduate studies dean, department chairman, vice-president and president (1972–80) and served as president emeritus at McMaster University.
In times particularly difficult for university presidents, he gave strong leadership marked by sound judgement, fair-mindedness and breadth of understanding and concern. These qualities brought appointment to scores of important scientific and educational bodies. He acted as a scientific and educational adviser to governments in Canada and abroad (e.g., from 1985 to 1992 as chairman of the International Advisory Panel — Canada, US, Britain — advising Chinese government and university officials on the development of China's universities). He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1985 and became honorary professor at China's Jiangxi University in 1989.