Dr. Bill Burian was professor and dean of Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services, a position to which he was named in 1976 when the University initiated this new college. Previously, he served on the faculty of the WMU School of Social Work. He joined the University faculty in 1969 as an associate professor, and in 1972 he was promoted to the rank of professor.
A distinguished scholar, researcher, educator and community service activist, Burian was well known for his many leadership roles at the national, state and local levels. He frequently was invited to present papers, conduct seminars, service on panels, keynote meetings, and give testimony on a broad spectrum of topics from commentary on social issues to the implications of technology on the future of the health and human services.
He consulted widely for national and state governments, private health and human service organizations, and foundations, and he served as the project director for 10 major research and development projects beyond the confines of his role as dean and professor. He published extensively in, as well as edited, prestigious professional journals in the fields of health and human services.
A member of numerous local, state and national boards and committees spanning more than 20 years, Burian's later affiliations included several leadership assignments with the American Society of Allied Health Professions. He served as president of the Southwest Michigan Health Systems Agency and was president of its successor, the Southwest Michigan Health Coordinating Council, a private initiative that he spearheaded. He participated in advisory groups for past and current Michigan governors and for members of the governors' cabinets.
The coordination of large systems, particularly the health and human services, was the focus of Burian's professional activities and scholarly endeavors in his more mature professional life. He was especially interested in the interface between provider systems and large employers in health care and in international comparative health and human services policy and systems, with special attention to the Far East and Pacific Rim.
The recipient of several citations and awards, Burian's last honor was bestowed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Allied Health Professions in November 1987, when he was named the outstanding member based upon his extraordinary contributions to the goals of the society.
In addition to a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Burian held a bachelor's degree from John Carrol University in Cleveland and a Master of Social Work degree from Boston College. He passed away on Sept. 21, 1988, at age 51, after a brief illness.