Alabama Academy of Honor


Neal Richard Berte

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1979, 1998, and 2002.



A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Neal Berte came to Alabama in 1970 as Dean of the New College, University of Alabama. In 1974 he was given the additional responsibility of Vice President for Education Development. Since February 1, 1976, he has been President of Birmingham-Southern College.

Dr. Berte received his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati where he was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Epsilon, Omicron Delta Kappa, and was president of his junior and senior classes. As a Ford Foundation Scholar he received his master's degree in political science, attended Union Theological Seminary as a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar, and received his doctorate in counseling, administration, and political science from the University of Cincinnati. He has done further post graduate study at Garrett Theological Seminary and during the summer of 1990 was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University and served as President-in-Residence at the Harvard Institute for educational Management Program in the summer of 1991.

From 1966 to 1968 he was assistant director of the College Entrance Examination Board. Before going to the University of Alabama, he served as executive assistant to the president of Ottawa University, Ottawa, Kansas.

Dr. Berte has many times been recognized, including Birmingham's Distinguished Citizen Award, Citizen of the Year, Eskine Ramsay Award for Outstanding Civic Service, and Distinguished Gallery of Honor; two times named one of Birmingham's Top 10 Leaders of the Decade by local media; one of the "100 Most Effective College Presidents" by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education; one of "America's Leaders in Higher Education" by the American Council on Education; Administrator of the Year in Alabama by the American Association of University Administrators. In 2001, he was inducted into the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame, and, in 2002, he was inducted into the Birmingham-Southern College Sports Hall of Fame.

He has served in leadership positions for many local, regional, and national organizations. In 1978, he was elected the first president of the Alabama Association of Colleges and Universities and as president of the American Association of Higher Education. He is founding chairman of both Leadership Birmingham and Region 2020 citizen-driven regional planning process. Other local leadership positions have included president and campaign chairman for United Way, president of the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce, president of the Birmingham Festival of Arts, member of the board of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, president of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, and chairman of the Administrative Board of Canterbury United Methodist Church, among others.

A frequent lecturer at academic meetings, he has written numerous articles which have appeared in learned journals. He is the author of Individualizing Education Through Learning Contacts and Changing Agenda for American Higher Education.

Dr. Berte is married to the former Anne Liles and has four children: Becky, Julie, Mark, and Scott as well as nine grandchildren.