I was sorry to hear that Daniel Bernstine, a former dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School, later president of Portland State University, and most recently head of the LSAC, passed away recently. One moving article about his life appeared in the East Bay Times (he was educated at Berkeley) a few years back when he spoke at the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church's "Graduates Day." Cribbing now from that article:
Daniel Bernstine, the son of Louisiana sharecroppers who settled in Richmond after World War II, worked at the U.S. Department of Labor and served as president of Portland State University. ... “The world is going to be a very different place in the future than anything you or I can envision,” Bernstine said. “You have to continue to prepare yourself through education…. My challenge to you is to maximize the opportunities you have before you.”
Bernstine paraphrased Franklin D. Roosevelt when he promised his remarks would adhere to the adage, “Be sincere, be brief and be seated.” But in about 20 minutes, Bernstine touched on themes including globalization, immigration, education, community standards and social challenges in the African-American community.
“I am afraid sometimes, afraid that African-Americans are falling for the okeydoke. When I see more African-Americans still on probation, parole and incarcerated than in college, we’re going for the okeydoke.”
Bernstine, 65, described growing up in a small house “on the other side of the tracks,” at 45th Street and Carlson Boulevard. His father was a janitor with a fourth-grade education and his mother a homemaker caring for four children.
But what they lacked in formal schooling was balanced by a fierce sense of pride, a faith in education and a community of other adults who all helped to keep each other’s kids in line. He recalled a childhood of playing outdoors and later working summers at the Port Chicago with his uncle, one of several male mentor figures.