Poetry at Tech Founder Bourne Dies

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Rebecca Keane
Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
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A Remembrance of Henry C. Bourne

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Henry Clark Bourne, Jr. passed away March 25, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. A former Georgia Tech Vice President of Academic Affairs who also served for a year as Acting President of the Institute, Bourne founded the nationally-acclaimed Poetry at Tech program within Ivan Allen College's School of Literature, Communication, and Culture.

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Henry Clark Bourne, Jr. passed away March 25, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. A former Georgia Tech Vice President of Academic Affairs who also served for a year as Acting President of the Institute, Bourne founded the nationally-acclaimed Poetry at Tech program within Ivan Allen College's School of Literature, Communication, and Culture.

A professor of electrical engineering, Dr. Bourne's love of books, intellectual, and cultural pursuits led him and his wife to endow the Margaret T. and Henry C. Bourne, Jr. Chair in Poetry, as well as scholarship funds. The Bournes' vision was to ensure opportunity for first-rate instruction in the great poetry of the world for Georgia Tech students.

A Remembrance of Henry Bourne
by Interim Dean Kenneth J. Knoespel

I first met Henry Bourne in 1985 at the time I organized an exhibition for the Price Gilbert Library. The exhibition, " Framing the Foundations,' displayed the large number of books that constituted a collection of rare material in the history of science. The exhibition attracted many visitors who were surprised that our library had such a rich collection of material. I remember talking about the exhibited books with Henry frequently. I remember how proud we were that the collection included a very rare first edition of Newton's Principia (1687). In conjunction with the exhibition, Henry Bourne donated his family's copy of the second edition of the Principia (1713) to Georgia Tech. Reference to Newton became a regular feature of our conversations and even figured in my last meeting with Henry in 2008.

Our conversations showed Henry Bourne's interest in the history of science and technology and the importance of these histories for his own career. An understanding of where we had come from was something that he believed crucial in the development of science and engineering. Henry Bourne was a distinguished electrical engineer at the same time he was deeply committed to shaping settings that made it possible for students in science and engineering to understand the ways that the arts could enhance their work.

Such belief became exemplified in the endowment that he and Margaret provided to establish the Bourne Chair in Poetry for the School of Literature, Communication & Culture. Together with others, I was pleased to work with Henry and Margaret in establishing the Bourne Chair that is currently held by my colleague Thomas Lux. I still remember Henry saying that " Georgia Tech didn't need another chair in Electrical Engineering, it needed a Chair in Poetry!" I vividly remember Henry's pleasure at the inaugural reading of Poetry at Tech. As we walked into the Ferst Auditorium with the hundreds of others, Henry recalled hearing Robert Frost reading at MIT. He recalled that the sight of all those scientists and engineers going to hear Frost made a strong impression. He hoped that the experience he had would now be shared generations of Tech students.

Henry Bourne influenced my understanding of Georgia Tech and my thinking about science and technology and the future of universities. There's no question that he fostered my own belief in the crucial importance of building programs that enable faculty and students from multiple disciplines to work together.

A memorial service for Henry Clark Bourne was held March 29, 2010 at the Calvary Episcopal Church in Tarboro, North Carolina near the large farm where he and his family grew up.

In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome contributions to "The Henry and Margaret Bourne Scholarship Fund" at Georgia Tech or the Calvary Episcopal Churchyard Committee.

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

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Institute and Campus, Institute Leadership, Student and Faculty, Research
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Bourne, Bourne Chair, poetry, Poetry at Tech, Poetry@Tech
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  • Created By: Rebecca Keane
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Apr 12, 2010 - 8:00pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:06pm