By Sarah Kuper
Dr. Neal Berte, president emeritus of Birmingham-Southern College, will receive the Jemison Visionary Award at the Jan. 23 Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce Luncheon.
Berte served as president of BSC for more than 28 years, seeing the institution through hard times and many changes.
A prominent figure in higher education, Berte was dean of the New College and vice president for educational development at the University of Alabama, and he served as director in the Midwest office of the College Entrance Examination Board.
Beyond his career in higher education, receiving the Jemison Victory Award is a result of Berte’s contributions to Mountain Brook and Birmingham.
Berte is the founding chairman of Leadership Birmingham, has served as president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and has been president of United Way.
He is a member of the Birmingham Business Alliance Executive Committee and he chaired the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Berte also co-chaired the campaign to restore the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
While his list of accomplishments, contributions and accolades is long, Berte said he plans to accept the honor on behalf of the many volunteers he has worked with in his 40 years in Birmingham.
“Birmingham really does have a vibrant civic spirit,” he said. “This is a community that, in terms of financial support as well as volunteer support, is willing to give to different causes. One example is that we’ve never missed a United Way goal.”
Berte comes from humble beginnings. No one else in his family went to college, but he said they were deeply committed to their Cincinnati community.
“I learned from their example. I’ve had a long-time interest in the concept of servant leadership – the idea of benefitting others and strengthening your own sense of civic service by learning from others,” he said.
The chamber also will present the William Tynes Award to Dr. Sue DeBrecht.
The Chamber Annual Luncheon will be at 11 a.m. at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook. Tickets are available at mtnbrookchamber.org.