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Colleagues remember professor for devotion to social justice

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Photo of Dr. Arthur Berliner courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman.

Photo of Dr. Arthur Berliner courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman.

TCU professor Arthur Berliner started every class with a Shakespearean quote or a Gilbert & Sullivan song.

Berliner, who taught social work ethics classes in the social work department at TCU, passed away on Jan. 10 at the age of 93, according to an obituary by the Austin American-Statesman.

Linda Moore, his lifelong friend and fellow social work professor, said he was the epitome of a Renaissance man.

She said he loved classical music, Broadway musicals and reading. He supported progressive politics and admired the intellect of Darwin and the insights of Freud.

He had a great sense of humor, and his social work students admired his love for satire. Moore said his students called him ‘The Master.’

“He had so much to share about ethical behavior based on knowledge to help people who had needs,” Moore said. “He was devoted to social justice.”

TCU will fly its flags at half-staff today in memory of Berliner.

Berliner was born on July 4, 1920, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned a bachelor's degree at the City College of New York and earned a master's degree in social work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

After earning his graduate degree, he joined the Army Air Corps during World War II.

In 1949, he was recruited by the U.S. Public Health Service to become chief social worker at the USPHS hospital in Fort Worth. He treated narcotic addicts and mentally ill merchant seamen.

In 1980, Berliner was honored as Texas Social Worker of the Year.

In 1982, he was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Texas and later organized and directed the social work program at TCU.

Berliner retired as a TCU emeritus professor in 1988 but continued to teach part-time at several universities and reviewed books regularly for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“After retiring, he continued to keep up with what we did and sent hand-written notes to congratulate the social work department,” Moore said.

In recognition of his contributions to the TCU social work program, his colleagues established a social work scholarship in his name in 2001.

The $25,000 scholarship called the Arthur K. Berliner Scholarship Fund in Social Work is gathered from alumni, staff, faculty and friends to benefit social work students.

“Dr. Berliner was a real pioneer in his field and we were lucky to have him as part of our community,” said Chancellor Victor Boschini.

Moore said she hopes she can follow in his footsteps enough to make him proud.

“I will always be grateful for all he taught me as a new faculty member, as a colleague and as a friend. The world has lost a great soul, a great wit and a great mind,” she said.

Berliner was predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Miriam, in 2009.

He is survived by his two daughters, three granddaughters and two great-granddaughters.

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