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Students and faculty come from more than 100 countries, bringing different perspectives and rich texture to the UAlbany experience.

Iris Berger

A Broad Scope of Service


Professor of History Iris Berger is known as a take-charge person and voice of wise counsel who reaches across the boundaries between academic departments to work for the good of the University at Albany.

The energetic Berger has taught in Women’s Studies and Africana Studies as well as History and has worked tirelessly to advance opportunities for women across campus for almost three decades.

Her broad range of service was recognized recently when she was named a Collins Fellow.

To capture the scope of Iris Berger’s service,” wrote Professor of History Dan S. White in nominating her, “one might recall those displays of earthscapes or skyscapes that we all probably have seen in one museum or another: press a button for a particular mountain or for a star, and a light goes on at some location on the surface. If one imagines the topography of the University in that manner, then Iris has left pinpoints of light in all sectors of the map.” 

She was presented with the Collins Medallion at the UAlbany Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2010. The award, named for former UAlbany President Evan Revere Collins (who served from 1949-1969), recognizes senior teaching faculty who have shown “extraordinary devotion to the University and the people in it over a sustained period of time.”

Berger, who joined the University at Albany faculty in 1981 as a visiting professor, has published numerous books and articles on African history and women’s history, burnishing UAlbany’s academic reputation nationally and internationally. She is an expert on colonial African and African women’s history. Her most recent book, South Africa in World History, was published last year.

Berger was director of the Women’s Studies Program from 1981-1984, director of the Institute for Research on Women from 1991-1995, and chair of the Department of History from 2001-2007.  Her administrative expertise has been an important factor in the honors she has received, such as the President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Service in 2003, and the Bread and Roses Award for Excellence in Service on Behalf of Gender Equity in 2000.

She is vice president for research of the American Historical Association, the preeminent organization of the profession. Earlier she served a term as president of the African Studies Association. She has been an editorial board member for four major journals, and an editor of the Journal of African History. In addition, she was a member of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council and a delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies.

At UAlbany, Professor Berger has mentored students as well as younger female faculty. She has led women’s studies trips to South Africa and China. She has served on numerous University task forces and search committees, co-organized in 1992-93 the Faculty Group on Violence Against Women, and co-founded Initiatives For Women, a campus and community fund-raising effort.


Best-selling author and alumnus Gregory Maguire, '76
UAlbany Alumni

"What I found at UAlbany was the capacity for teachers to think a little bit beyond what the catalog said and to extend themselves in such a way as to make an education tailored for an individual."

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