Professor Jeffery Burley (1936-2021)

Jeff BurleyIt is with sadness that the college learned of the death of Emeritus Fellow Professor Jeffery (Jeff) Burley shortly after Christmas. Jeff was a much-loved member of the college community, a former Vice Warden of then-Green College and a member of the Sustainability Working Group until he died.

Jeff matriculated at New College in 1957, where he studied for a BA and then Masters in Forestry and received a half-blue at Basketball as an undergraduate. He completed his PhD at Yale, where his thesis was on the genetic variation of Sitka spruce. He then lived and worked for several years on agricultural research in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) before returning to Oxford.

From 1969 to 1976 Jeff worked for the Commonwealth Forestry Institute before becoming a University Lecturer in Forestry, working in this role from 1976 to 1983. In 1983 he was appointed Head of the University of Oxford Department of Forestry, a role that he filled until 1985. In his joint capacity as Professor of Forestry and Green College Fellow, he brought a considerable number of forestry students studying for the one-year taught MSc forestry and its relation to land use course to the college.

Jeff served as Director of the Oxford Forestry Institute from 1985 to 2002 and, amongst the hundreds of academic publications that he either authored or contributed to, edited the Encyclopedia of Forest Sciences. Jeff was, inter alia, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of American Foresters, President of IUFRO, the global forestry body, and was honoured with a CBE in 1991.

Jeff was an active member of the college community and a pioneer for sustainability initiatives throughout his association with Green College and, since 2008, the merged Green Templeton College. A long-time Governing Body Fellow, Jeff served as Development Fellow as well as Vice Warden at Green College. He edited A History of the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford: The Biography of a Building, published by college in 2005.

As an Emeritus Fellow, Jeff was actively engaged on the college’s sustainability agenda until shortly before he died and spearheaded the Fellowship Appeal 2020: Climate Change Imperative.

His last formal engagement in college was the 2021 Foundation Reception in September, which he attended with his wife Jean. Our thoughts are with her, his sons Jeremy and Timothy and his family and friends at this time.

Please let Gillian Cane know if you would like to pass messages or tributes.

Created: 7 January 2022