Dr. William (Bill) Birch became the head of the Geography department in 1963. He received his BA and PhD in geography at the University of Reading. His teaching experiences include his position at Bristol University as a lecturer and at the University of Worcester in Massachusetts as a professor. Although his work background was in economic and quantitative geography, he supported other fields of geography such as urban, physical and historical.
During the 1960's, the position of the geography department was at stake and it was about to close down. This is when the university was in search of a young geographer who would work towards the advancement of the department with dedication and Birch was appointed on the 1st of July in 1963. Upon his arrival, he started appointing new professors who would facilitate his two significant responsibilities of revising and updating the undergraduate program and introducing a graduate program that would be suitable for students from all around the world. A significant appointee right after his arrival was Ian Burton, who played a key role in introducing new disciplines such as quantitative and environmental geography.
Birch left University of Toronto in 1967 and headed back to his homeland, England for family reasons while accepting a position at the University of Leeds. He served at the university for a short period of time but he left behind an unforgettable legacy as he improved the standard of the department in the academic world.
He passed away on the 12th of June in 2009.