Long-time UMass professor Normand Berlin, 83, dies

By Anthony Rentsch

(Collegian File Photo)
(Collegian File Photo)

Normand Berlin, a professor emeritus of English and integral contributor to the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, died on Monday, after over 40 years of service to the University of Massachusetts community. He was 83.

Normand Berlin (UMass Media Relations)
Normand Berlin
(UMass Media Relations)

Berlin retired from teaching in 1995, following a 40-year career at UMass. During his time he traveled throughout the world on exchange and summer programs, teaching at Harvard University, the University of Hawaii and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He was also the director of the Oxford Summer seminar in 1988 and 1991.

Prior to his stint at the UMass, Berlin taught at McGill University for four years.

Berlin received his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1953, his master’s degree from Columbia University in 1956 and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 1964.

He most recently lectured at the University during the 1995-1996 academic year and in 2004. He also taught a popular Shakespeare class for members of the community through the Renaissance Center every spring for many years.

“Normand Berlin’s devotion to Shakespeare and literature inspired decades of students on campus, and later through the Renaissance Center’s community classes he reached out to a less traditional audience,” chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said in a statement. “In all his teaching Normand helped thousands understand the importance of the humanities in our lives, and he will be missed.”

In a statement, the Renaissance Center noted his “vital and consistent support of the center’s primary mission” and director Arthur Kinney called Berlin irreplaceable. Berlin received the Renaissance Center medal – its highest honor – last year.

In 1976, Berlin was also awarded the campus’s highest honor for classroom excellence, the Distinguished Teaching Award.

A funeral for Berlin was held at the Jewish Community Center of Amherst Wednesday afternoon.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.