Lehigh University
Lehigh University


In memoriam: Muriel Mallin Berman

Muriel Mallin Berman, 89, who enhanced the visual and educational quality of life at Lehigh, passed away Tuesday in her Allentown home.

Dr. Berman and her husband, Philip, were valuable contributors to Lehigh. They established the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies, which administers and coordinates the Jewish Studies program at Lehigh, and placed numerous works of contemporary art throughout Lehigh's campus.

"I count myself truly lucky to have known Muriel, if only for six years. She was so full of enthusiasm for art and life," says Gregory Farrington, Lehigh president. “It was always a delight to spend an evening with her. We will all miss her so much."

Laurence Silberstein, director of the Berman Center for Jewish Studies, adds: "As a result of her and Phil's vision and generosity, several generations of students have had the opportunity to study about Jewish culture, religion, and history with scholars of national and international reputation. Thanks in large part to Muriel's wide-ranging interests and her humanistic vision, Jewish studies has become an integral part of the Liberal Arts program at Lehigh."

"Truly inspiring"

In addition to the Berman Center, Muriel and Philip Berman's contributions to Lehigh's art galleries are too many to list.

"Muriel Mallin Berman has been a force and a source of inspiration to the Lehigh Art Galleries for many years," says Ricardo Viera, professor of art and curator of the Lehigh Art Galleries. "(The Bermans) have donated artworks ranging from Japanese prints to monumental outdoor sculptures. And along with her daughter, Nancy, and the College of Arts and Sciences, Muriel sponsored a course in the Fall 2002 semester called “Public Art, Public Decisions.” Her vision and passion were, indeed, contagious. She was truly inspiring."

Born in Pittsburgh, Dr. Berman received her bachelor's degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, becoming one of the first female graduates. She practiced optometry until 1984.

She married Philip I. Berman in 1942, and he remained her partner for 55 years in everything from placing sculptures around the world to educational ventures such as the Berman Center to organizing a television station (WLVT-Channel 39).

The Bermans strongly supported Jewish causes. In addition to the Berman Center, they established a center for biblical archaeology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Muriel was also a member of the national board of Hadassah and was the first woman president of the Jewish Publication Society of America.

To share their love of art with the Lehigh Valley and the world, the Bermans loaned works to U.S. embassies and donated many works to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Philip served on the board of trustees.

Dr. Berman was the mother of Nancy Berman Bloch, trustee, daughter Nina Berman Schafer, son Steven Mallin Berman, and six grandchildren.

Services will be held Thursday, April 15, at 2:30 p.m. at K.I. Synagogue, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Memorial contributions may be sent to Hadassah Medical Organization, 50 W. 58th Street, New York, NY 10019.

--Elizabeth Shimer

Posted on Wednesday, April 14, 2004

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