George Breslauer, professor emeritus, given 2016 Clark Kerr Award

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Campus professor emeritus George Breslauer received the 2016 Clark Kerr Award for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education on Wednesday.

Breslauer, who joined UC Berkeley’s political science department in 1971, is an expert on Soviet politics and foreign relations. He has been the chair of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies, chair of the political science department and executive dean of the College of Letters and Science. Additionally, he was executive vice chancellor and provost from 2006 to 2014.

Breslauer is the author of several books, including “Gorbachev and Yeltsin as Leaders” and “Khrushchev and Brezhnev as Leaders: Building Authority in Soviet Politics,” which he said took him the better part of 30 years to write. The central focus of his scholarly work lies in the area of Soviet and post-Soviet leadership, Breslauer said.

“My interest from a larger theoretical standpoint is on the processes of leadership,” Breslauer said. “How leaders get their way … or not.”

Breslauer is currently working on an article that compares the liberalization of the Roman Catholic Church in the last 50 years to the liberalization of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union toward the end of its existence. The article, as Breslauer explained, does not equate them on moral grounds but rather as institutions that view themselves as “sacred.”

“I don’t have any plans for another book, but who knows where my intellectual curiosities will lead me,” Breslauer said. 

Breslauer will also be teaching an undergraduate lecture course next spring named “The Rise and Fall of World Communism in the Twentieth Century,” which will cover Eastern European, Asian and Cuban communism. The course is different from ones he has previously taught, in which he focused only on Soviet communism — this course will examine global communism.

Previous Clark Kerr award recipients include late California governor and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and past UC Berkeley chancellors Ira Michael Heyman and Chang-Lin Tien.

The award will be presented to Breslauer at a private ceremony in March.

Robert Tooke covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @robertono_t.