At an award celebration preceding the UMKC School of Education’s seventh annual Urban Education and Community Forum on April 5, E. Bertram (Bert) Berkley was honored with the 2016 Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education. The award is named for longtime UMKC and School of Education benefactor Hugh J. Zimmer, a noted business and civic leader and ardent supporter of urban education.
An accomplished businessman and civic leader, Berkley was the founder in 1992 of the Local Investment Commission (LINC), which is focused on investing in children and families. One of the first LINC programs was placing healthcare professionals, mental health specialists and social workers in Kansas City public schools to meet the needs of children and parents to serve the whole child. Today, that concept, known as Community Schools, is a major educational movement in the U.S., advocated by the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) in Washington, D.C. Berkley has served on the IEL Board since 1995.
From 2007 to 2015, Bert and his wife, Joan Berkley, made available through the UMKC School of Education an annual award for Kansas City area teachers who developed programs to make learning more enjoyable and more meaningful. These educators upgraded the level of teaching and learning and set an example for teachers in their schools, and in others.
The award was presented jointly by UMKC School of Education Interim Dean Chris Brown and Hugh J. Zimmer.
In his acceptance comments after receiving a standing ovation, Berkley stressed the need for a quality education for all children, regardless of their economic circumstances. “We appreciate that the UMKC School of Education prepares teachers to teach in an urban environment, a much more challenging environment than teaching in the suburbs or in a rural setting,” he said. “What more important mission could any individual have than being dedicated to giving every child the opportunity to get a first class education, one that will prepare that young person to be successful in life?”
Berkley also congratulated Zimmer for receiving the inaugural Hugh J. Zimmer Award for Excellence in Urban Education in 2013 and vowed to carry on the proud tradition of service in support of urban education initiatives.
Berkley is a former Chairman of the UMKC Trustees, and later received the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest non-academic award UMKC offers to a volunteer. He graduated from Duke University and Harvard Business School. He served for 42 months in World War II, and an additional 17 months in Korea, and received the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service.