Alumni News

October 20, 2019 at 12:11 pm

Notable Alumni | Irving Berkowitz Dedicated to Human Rights and Dignity

Graphic for College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Award

Editor’s Note: The College of Arts & Sciences Notable Alumni Awards honor alumni for broad career accomplishments, commitment to community service, and valuable contributions to Ohio University and the College of Arts & Sciences.

Dr. Irving Berkowitz ’73 Social Work

“As the son of Holocaust survivors, Dr. Irving Berkowitz has been passionately engaged in issues and causes related to social justice, prejudice and equal opportunity,” reads the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award for Berkowitz.

Berkowitz received the award in Palm Beach County for a lifetime of leadership, scholarship, advocacy and service fighting racism, antisemitism, hatred and discrimination, according to the awards website.

Berkowitz, dean of Academic Affairs at the Palm Beach State College Lake Worth campus, has dedicated over 42 years to academia, advocating for underserved groups, improving race relations, raising awareness of social injustice and championing diversity. He is widely respected and acknowledged by those who have worked with him locally, nationally and internationally for his contributions to improving the life of underserved groups.

Irving Berkowitz, portrait

Dr. Irving Berkowitz

He has spent most of his personal and professional life volunteering his time and expertise to nonprofit organizations in the areas of human services, civil rights, poverty and social justice, arts and culture, environmental, animal welfare and education. Berkowitz’s pursuit of social justice for underserved groups has no geographic boundaries. He has provided counsel to several foreign governments, including the formerly Communist governments of Romania, Albania and Slovakia.

As the son of Holocaust survivors, he has been passionately engaged in issues and causes related to social justice, prejudice and equal opportunity. He is the proud recipient of numerous awards and recognition from civil rights organizations such as the Urban League, the North American Indian Association and the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum.

Berkowitz became Dean of Academic Affairs at Palm Beach State College in August 2013. He also held posts at Bermuda College in Bermuda, Lassen College in California, Central New Mexico Community College, and John F, Kennedy University.

He earned a bachelor’s in social work and sociology at Ohio University, followed by a master’s at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Organizational Theory at Tulane University.

This is his 42nd year in higher education, and he is internationally recognized in the fields of social policy and organization theory. In 1997, Berkowitz was inducted into the Honor Society for International Scholars.

Dedication to Humanity

In 2016, Berkowitz was awarded a Holocaust Fellowship to the International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel where he was a scholar-in-residence.” In 2017, Berkowitz was selected as the Holocaust Scholar for the Southern Region of the United States that would educate and accompany 200 Jewish teens from South Florida on the March of the Living , a two week visit to concentration camps, ghetto sites, memorials and mass graves in Poland followed by a tour of the State of Israel.

In 2018, Berkowitz completed a Fellowship as a “Scholar in Residence at Oxford University’s renowned Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy. Berkowitz is now working on a chapter for a forthcoming book on antisemitism.

Berkowitz summarizes his personal mission as follows: To promote and protect human rights, to preserve human dignity, to contribute to human development, and to improve the human condition.

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