Berkowitz recognized for academic work in post-communist Albania
Dr. Irving Berkowitz, dean of academic affairs at the Lake Worth campus, was recently honored for his role in helping the Republic of Albania build a system of democracy following the collapse of communism in the eastern European nation 25 years ago.
A social policy expert, he was dean of the College of Social Work and Human Services at Grand Valley State University in Michigan when he received an invitation to serve as an international public policy adviser as the nation transitioned from the repressive totalitarian regime of its Stalinist dictator, Enver Hoxha. He took his first trip to Albania in 1992, having already served as a social policy consultant for the government of Romania. By 1997 Berkowitz was regularly traveling to other eastern European countries, including the Republics of Slovakia and Belarus as a social policy consultant.
Berkowitz advised the Albanian central government and its municipal government. This included managing the political campaign of Edi Rama, the first democratically elected mayor, who is now the country’s prime minister. He is also credited with being the founder of the Faculty of the Social Sciences at the University of Tirana in the nation’s capital.
For his work, Berkowitz was invited by the university last November to be officially recognized and celebrated. In the letter of invitation, university officials wrote, “your contributions to higher education, politics, public policy, social capital formation and building of post-communist-civil society in Albania, has not been and will not be forgotten.”
Although it’s been more than two decades since he took his first trip, Berkowitz said he was very proud to be invited to return and be honored. The university named him the honorary founding dean of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, the school within the university that he says “played a key role in the development and implementation of social policies and programs” in Albania. He also succeeded in procuring numerous U.S. government and foundation grants to support his work to create the school and to allow professors, public administrators and even the Minister of Education to travel to the U.S. for professional development.
According to Berkowitz, “Communist countries neither acknowledged the existence of social problems nor established social policies to address such issues as poverty, unemployment, physical and mental disabilities, racism, social security, AIDS, etc.
“It’s certainly one very high honor to be recognized for one’s work by a foreign country,’’ said Berkowitz, who has worked in higher education for 38 years, including more than two and a half years at PBSC.
Berkowitz came to Palm Beach State from Bermuda College where he worked for two and a half years as executive vice president of academic and student affairs. Prior to that, he served as academic vice president and accreditation liaison officer for three years at Lassen Community College in California. He previously served as vice president for academic affairs at John F. Kennedy University in the San Francisco Bay area.