UC Berkeley's Sociology Department recently received a $100,000 gift from alumna Suava Zbierski-Salameh to establish an endowment to support students in honor of Michael Burawoy, who retired earlier this year after 47 years of teaching, research and contributions to Berkeley and sociology throughout the world.
Burawoy, whose academic journey began at the University of Cambridge, went on to profoundly impact the field of sociology. His influence is evident from the bustling corridors of UC Berkeley to the global stages of the American Sociological Association and International Sociological Association, where he served as president.
“I’ve been so privileged to work with so many students, who are not just talented and imaginative, but humane and committed like Suava – students who have gone on to great accomplishments,” Burawoy said. “This generous gift from Suava will help future generations continue the fine traditions of Berkeley Sociology.”
The gift from Zbierski-Salameh, who received her Ph.D. in sociology from Berkeley, will establish the Burawoy Chair's Endowment for Sociology. Zbierski-Salameh, a former student of Professor Burawoy, taught at Haverford College before becoming founder and president of the Haverford Institute of Public Sociology, a nonprofit corporation for strengthening democracy in Eastern Europe and advancing exchanges between diverse academic communities.
"Empowering the next generation of sociologists in honor of Professor Burawoy's contributions is a privilege,” Zbierski-Salameh said. “Through this endowment, I hope to further advance rigorous inquiry and dedication to the public good that Berkeley Sociology embodies.”
Berkeley Social Sciences Dean Raka Ray added, “I am delighted to see the establishment of the Burawoy Chair’s Endowment for Sociology, which honors the unmatched contributions of Michael Burawoy both to the field of sociology and for 47 years, to our Department of Sociology.”
Having arrived at Berkeley Sociology in 1976, Professor Burawoy's influence on the field is legendary. From his formative years at the University of Cambridge to his pivotal work at the University of Chicago and his extensive research across three continents, his voice has reverberated globally. Burawoy's exploits extend beyond the academic scene. As part of his research, he has been a worker in the copper mines of Zambia; in machine shops in Chicago and Hungary; in a rubber plant and a furniture factory in post-Soviet Russia; and he ended up studying the labor of pedagogy in his own department. He is known internationally for his powerful advocacy of public sociology. With 12 books and over 120 publications under his belt, every piece of work is a testament to pushing the boundaries of social thought.
"Michael Burawoy's impact on sociology is monumental. To many across the globe, when they think of Berkeley Sociology, they think of Burawoy," said Professor Kim Voss, a former Sociology Chair. "His national and international presence, alongside his tireless dedication to Berkeley, makes him a pillar of our community."
As president first of the American Sociological Association and then of the International Sociological Association, Burawoy sought to build bridges connecting sociologists to one another and to local communities and social movements. His creation of the ISA magazine Global Dialogue is just one example of his efforts at global outreach.
But what truly sets Professor Burawoy apart is the deep connection to his students, both undergraduate and graduate. He is known for recognizing each student as a unique individual, and somehow manages to make each and every student feel seen and heard - even in a lecture hall with 200 students. As one undergraduate put it, "Burawoy's class was more than just a lecture. It was an experience, and he ensured each of us was a part of it."
For his lifetime achievements, Burawoy was the recipient of 2023 The Berkeley Citation, which is awarded to distinguished individuals or organizations, whose contributions to UC Berkeley go beyond the call of duty and whose achievements exceed the standards of excellence in their fields.
“Professor Burawoy’s research, teaching and mentoring have been a calling card for Berkeley Sociology for decades,” said Dave Harding, chair of Berkeley Sociology. “This endowment ensures that his legacy will live on in our future graduates.”
To make a gift in honor of Professor Burway to support Berkeley Sociology, please visit the Burawoy Chair's Endowment for Sociology