Allen Berger ’57, G’66 has always been a strong proponent of the written word, and of sharing the joys of reading with others. As a student at Utica College in Utica, New York—then part of Syracuse University—he wrote poems and short stories and, after graduation, landed a job as a newspaper reporter.
After a stint in the U.S. Army and serving as a reporter for a newspaper in Virginia, he earned a master’s degree from Albany State Teachers College and began his teaching career. He taught high school English and reading for several years, then was offered the opportunity to earn a doctorate from Syracuse University’s School of Education.
“I have such fond memories of Syracuse University,” says the Utica native. “I especially remember the professors at SU—Margaret Early, William Sheldon, Frank Greene, Leonard Braam, Harold Herber. There must have been 25 or 35 doctoral students who were attracted by these extraordinary teachers. People came from everywhere to learn from them.”
Honoring His Parents with a Gift to Syracuse University
To honor his parents, Henry and Goldie Berger, who built a successful tailor shop and dry cleaning business in his hometown, Berger recently established the Dr. Allen Berger Endowed Scholarship. Funded through a planned gift, the scholarship will provide financial assistance to graduate students enrolled in the School of Education, with preference given to literacy education students.
The endowment caps a long career devoted to literacy, which includes teaching at Miami University (Ohio), where he was the Heckert Professor of Reading and Writing for 18 years. While there, he began an inner-city program called Teens for Literacy, which has been used in more than 100 schools throughout the United States.
He has written more than 400 articles and chapters on reading and writing education, as well as co-authored and co-edited 10 books, is a recipient of the Laureate Award from the College Reading Association, and is a Fellow in the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy. Now retired, Berger lives in Savannah, Georgia, where he has served as chair of the board of trustees of the Live Oak Public Libraries.
“Syracuse University changed my life,” he says. “When I was considering endowing a scholarship, I thought about the different places where I worked, and decided I would give to Syracuse. I was very fortunate to have a graduate assistant job when I was there, and that was wonderful. I want someone else to be able to have the same experience.”