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Leonard Berkowitz
August 11, 1926 - January 3, 2016

Leonard Berkowitz
Aug 11, 1926 - Jan 3, 2016

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MADISON, WIS- Leonard Berkowitz. Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died on January 3, 2016 at Oakwood Village in Madison, Wisconsin at the age of 89 after a short illness. Dr. Berkowitz was born on August 11, 1926 and grew up in New York City. He was the son of Morris and Goldie Berkowitz and the brother of Samuel Berkowitz, DDS, MS, FICD. He received his bachelor's degree from NYU. Following graduation, he served in the US Army during World War II as a meteorologist stationed in the Aleutian Islands. After the war, he attended and received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Berkowitz served on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1955 to 1989. He also held visiting appointments at Stanford, Oxford and Cornell Universities, as well as Churchill College at Cambridge University and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Dr. Berkowitz was one of the pioneers in the experimental study of altruism but is, perhaps, best known for studying influences on aggressive behavior, including the effects of television and film violence. His work remains relevant for modern researchers and policy-makers. Dr. Berkowitz was the author of over 170 articles and books, including a number of textbooks on social psychology and is one of the most frequently cited psychologists of the twentieth century. In 1993, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

After his retirement, Dr. Berkowitz continued to write in his field, submitting his last article for publication on November 1, 2015. In 2013, he received an honorary Doctor of Science from Ohio State University. He was an avid world traveler, collector of modern art, active follower of world events and opera-goer. He was also a member of the ABC Book Club of Madison, where he was known for his penetrating critiques of non-fiction works.

Dr. Berkowitz was pre-deceased by his first wife, Nettie Berkowitz in 1975. He is survived by his wife of forty years, Norma Berkowitz, two daughters, Phyllis Hathaway (John) and Marti Ellermann (Raymond), two stepsons, Warren and David Nesbitt, five grandchildren, two step-grandsons and a brother, Samuel Berkowitz (Lynn).

A private memorial service will be held at a later date. The family is establishing a memorial fund in Dr. Berkowitz's honor for the benefit of graduate students in the Psychology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Contributions should be mailed to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, Attention Andrew Kitslaar, 1848 University Avenue, Madison, Wis. 53726, for the Department of Psychology-Berkowitz Memorial Fund. Online (reference Berkowitz Memorial):

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Myrna Casebolt on Jan 24, 2016

Norma dear Norma. I am so sorry about your loss and the loss for so many as well. I just learned about this from Toby as I am in Florida and can surely relate as my spouse of 38 years died while we were on holiday in Europe this past June. Go gently and take good care of yourself and I hope that the love and support of family and friends provides some solace for you. Be well. Love, Myrna Casebolt

Rose Boucher on Jan 10, 2016

Norma, I was saddened to read of the death of Dr. Berkowitz. It was always a pleasure to help make your visits to Blackhawk Country Club enjoyable. May your memories bring you peace and comfort in your loss. Rose Boucher

Donna Ulteig on Jan 10, 2016

Thank you, Len, for your incredible professional contributions, along with your loyal support of Norma as she created the ngo FOCCUS, which took you to Russia and Ukraine on many uncharted adventures.! I appreciated your dry wit and intellect, as well as your warmth and caring.

John McSweeny on Jan 7, 2016

Dr. Berkowitz was the chair of the psychology department as well as a well-regarded teacher and scholar when I was an undergraduate psychology major at UW. Thank you. Dr. Berkowitz. heading such an excellent group of academics who gave me a head-start in my career.


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