Posted by: alexhickey | April 18, 2013

Dr. Vince Burke

Dr. Vince Burke

Vincent P. Burke was born in St. Jacques on August 3, 1878 to Patrick Isaac and Alice Burke. He was educated in St. John’s at St. Bonaventure’s College and at Columbia University, New York. He was the first Newfoundlander to be a licensed superintendent of schools in New York. At the age of nineteen he became principal of the High School in Torbay.

Burke was appointed Superintendent of Roman Catholic Schools in 1899 when he was only 21 years old.  The University of Ottawa awarded him an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree in 1914 for his work in education in Newfoundland.

He became Newfoundland’s first Deputy Minister of Education in 1920.  Dr. Burke was passionate in pursuing the establishment of a University in Newfoundland.  He went to New York and arranged a grant of $300,000 from the Carnegie Corporation which started what is now Memorial University. He chaired the first meeting of Memorial’s first Board of Governors in 1925 when the college was established and was chairman of the board from 1936 to 1951.

Burke was named to the Order of the British Empire in 1917 for his work during World War I. He became an officer in the Order in 1931 and Commander of the British Empire in 1946. His work was also recognized by the Vatican when he was knighted by the Pope in 1940.

Amelia Earhart, Unknown man, Vince Burke

Dr. Burke, on the far right, was one of the dignitaries representing the Newfoundland government who met Amelia Earhart in Harbour Grace in 1932 prior to her solo transatlantic flight from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Ireland.

He was appointed as Newfoundland’s first Senator to the Canadian Senate by Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent on January 25, 1950 and served as a Liberal senator until his death in late 1953 after having been ill for two years.

Burke House residence on the main campus is named after Dr. Burke.  Dr. Burke is considered one of the fathers of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Read about this in an excerpt from The Nine Lives of Paton College by S. J. Carew and in an article, The Foundation of Memorial College by Brother G.R. Bellows.  The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador awards the Dr. Vince Burke Scholarship in his memory each year.



  1. My Dad thought the world of Dr. Burke.

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