George Norman Burkhardt (1900-1991) was a member of the Chemistry department at the University of Manchester between 1923-1968. He also worked as in the University administration, serving as two Vice-Chancellors, Sir John Stopford and Sir William Mansfield Cooper.
Born in London in 1900, Burkhardt moved soon after to Swindon with his parents and brother. He was offered places to read chemistry at both Manchester and Oxford Universities, choosing Manchester on health grounds. He suffered from severe asthma and felt the humid climate in the North would be beneficial.
Burkhardt gained first class honours in chemistry in 1920, followed by a M.Sc. in 1921, and Ph.D. in 1925. He was appointed assistant lecturer (later lecturer) in chemistry in 1923.was a member of the Chemistry department during the golden years of Lapworth, Robinson, Polanyi, Heilbron, Todd, Evans and Hirst. His PhD. was in the physical aspects of organic chemistry, and supervised by Arthur Lapworth.
Burkhardt was a very visible member in the wider life of the University. He enjoyed a long connection with Hulme Hall, firstly as a student, then as an academic member, only resigning from the Hall Committee in 1987 due to ill health. The new residential block, Burkhardt House, was named after him in 1998. Parallel to this work was his work for the Convocation of the University, in which he played a central role for half a century, sustaining links between the University and its alumni.
During the Second World War he became involved with academic administration, and his skills in this area were much valued by the University. As secretary to the Faculty of Science, Burkhardt took charge of the interdepartmental honours general science degree. After the War, the Vice-Chancellor, Sir John Stopford, recognised his role as advisor and created the special post of Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for him, with membership of the Senate.
In 1950 Burkhardt became secretary to the newly formed Manchester Joint Research Council, a unique partnership between the University and the Manchester Chamber of Commerce to promote better relations between academe and industry in postwar Britain. He remained active in the Council until it was wound up in 1972.
Burkhardt also had a keen interest in the history of chemistry. During his retirement, Burkhardt wrote a series of papers on the history of the department of chemistry and on Manchester scientists.