Ross Berkes, International Relations Expert, Dies at 87
Ross N. Berkes, a former director of USC’s School of International Relations, died of respiratory failure Nov. 29, at his Los Angeles home. He was 87.
Berkes was director of the School of International Relations from 1949 to 1976. He continued teaching until 1981, when he was named professor emeritus. A decade later, he became a distinguished professor emeritus. In 1962, he received the Associates Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“Dr. Berkes laid the foundation for what has become one of the leading international relations programs in the United States,” said Paul E. Hadley, director of USC’s Emeriti Center and a professor emeritus of international relations. “He personally taught core undergraduate and graduate courses for 50 years.”
Among Berkes’ former students are high-ranking officers in the Foreign Service, including Genta Hawkins Holmes, ambassador to Australia.
Berkes served as a consultant to the State Department from 1958 to 1962 and director of the Institute of World Affairs in Santa Barbara, Calif., from 1977 to 1980.
“As director of USC’s School of International Relations, Dr. Berkes built its reputation from that of a virtually unknown, parochial institution to one of national stature,” Totton J. Anderson, distinguished professor emeritus of political science, said in a letter nominating Berkes for a USC award in the early 1980s.
From 1965 to 1981, Berkes directed USC’s graduate international relations programs in the United Kingdom and Germany. He was director of the Institute of World Affairs annual conferences in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1996, a case-studies classroom – where students devise and discuss possible solutions to real-life crises in international affairs – was installed in the Social Sciences Building and dedicated to Berkes, who had earned a reputation as a master teacher.
“His quality and rigor were legendary and his reputation for integrity, legendary,” said Jonathan Aronson, director of USC’s School of International Relations.
Berkes was born Sept. 4, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He earned a master’s degree in international relations and a Ph.D. in political science from USC in 1939 and 1942, respectively. Berkes earned a second master’s degree from Columbia University in 1942. During World War II, he served as a U.S. Naval officer from 1943 to 1946.
He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; son, Robert; and daughter, Beverly, all graduates of USC.
A memorial service will be held on the University Park campus Friday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m., at USC’s Town & Gown. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Ross N. Berkes Scholarship Fund, c/o the School of International Relations, Von KleinSmid Center, Rm. 330, 3518 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, Ca., 90089-0043.