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August 28, 2014

Obituary: Burkart Holzner

holznerBurkart Holzner, former director of the University Center for International Studies (UCIS), Distinguished Service Professor of International Studies and emeritus professor of sociology and public and international affairs, died Aug 25, 2014. He was 83.

A native of Germany, Holzner studied at Munich University and the University of Wisconsin. He earned a PhD in psychology at the University of Bonn.

Holzner came to Pitt as an assistant professor in sociology in 1960, after two years as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin. He was named professor and chair of Pitt’s sociology department in 1966.

He became UCIS director in 1980, following the death in 1979 of founding UCIS director Carl Beck.

Holzner stepped down as UCIS director in 2000 and was succeeded by William Brustein. Lawrence Feick, who has been UCIS director since 2007, told the University Times: “Burkart Holzner was a seminal thinker about international education. His influence was enormous at Pitt and continues to be felt here in centers he created and programs he developed. More generally though, his vision was critical in establishing regional, national and international organizations that have shaped the way we approach internationalization.”

In 1998, Holzner was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award in recognition of his “enormously impressive record of contributions to internationalizing the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh region and higher education in the United States and abroad.”

In his commendation to Holzner, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg recognized him as “a consummate institution-builder, who has established, nurtured and maintained linkages with local, regional, state, national and international organizations. Your leadership has enhanced the understanding of international, commercial and political ties and has raised the consciousness of our students regarding international issues.”

Holzner’s scholarly interests included work on policy studies and leadership in the international dimension of higher education and in community development; in building institutional capacities in higher education, and in sociological theory including sociology of knowledge and of science and technology.

Visiting assignments throughout his career took him around the globe, with work at universities in Canada, Germany, India, Poland, Japan, Libya, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand, in addition to the United States.

Among many publications, Holzner was the author of “Reality Construction in Society” and co-author of “Transparency in Global Change: The Vanguard of the Open Society.”

Former director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies Robert M. Hayden, who stepped down from the position earlier this year, said, “Burkart appointed me to that job in 1998, and the longer I served, the more I appreciated his accomplishments in building international studies here, and also in supporting his directors. He both put Pitt on the national map for international studies, and international studies on the map of Pitt.”

Holzner is survived by his wife, Leslie Salmon-Cox, a former associate in Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center, and two sons and two daughters.

An on-campus memorial service is being planned, but no date has been set.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 1