Bernardini, Eugene

Title

Bernardini, Eugene

Date Updated

1-12-2022

Department

Humanities

Academic Rank

Professor Emeritus

Year Retired from SJSU

1998

Educational Background

UC Berkeley, History, 1970 Ph.D.

San Jose State University, 1958 BA; 1960 MA

UC Riverside, 1955-57

Chaffey Junior College, 1952-54 AA

Dissertation Title

The Italian Fascist Image of the United States

Teaching Experience

  • Humanities Dep’t., San Jose State, 1968-98.
  • Tutorials Experimental Program, 1969-71; organized and tutored the Spring Semester Abroad in Rome, Italy (28 students), 1971.
  • History Dep’t., San Jose State University, 1965-67.
  • Teaching Assistant, UC Berkeley, 1961-3; 1964-65.
  • Internship, Foothill College, JC Teaching Credential, 1960.

Administrative and Professional Experience

San Jose State University
  • Chairman, Department of Humanities, 1995-98
  • Coordinator, Humanities Honors Program, 1972-95
  • Committee Service: Department (Curriculum, 1972-98, Personnel, 1978-79, Library, 1973-78); College (Curriculum, 1972-3; RTP, 1974-79); University (Academic Senate, 1988-89; RTP 1992-94).
  • Chairman, Faculty Book Talks Program, 1983-85.
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar Awards
  • “Interpretations of Fascism,” Yale University, w/Prof. Henry Turner, 1982
  • “Culture and Politics in Europe in the Era of the Liberal Crisis, 1880-1945,” UCLA, w/Prof. Robert Wohl, 1981
  • “Europe in the Age of Fascism,” Vanderbilt University, w/Prof. Charles Delzell, 1978.

Service

  • SJSU Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association, 1999-2019 (Membership Chair, 1999-2006; President, 2001-02; Newsletter Editor, 2006-19).
  • SJSU Chorale and Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale, 1991-2009 (President, 2001-02).
  • Amici d’Oro, 1999-Present (President, 2002-03; Program Chairman, 2003-08, 2010-Present).
  • Experimental pilot programs (Humanities 160-161), w/ Prof. John Sperling, providing university outreach to the local community: Sunnyvale Public Safety Officers (Summer, 1973); Alum Rock High School students (Summer, 1974).
  • Student-Community Involvement Program (SCIP): supervised students and was an active member of the Speakers Bureau, 1969-70.
  • Council for a Coalition Against Poverty (CCAP), a non-partisan research organization that recruited our tutorial students to survey the needs and priorities of the people of Alviso, w/Dorothy Ellenberg, 1969-70.
  • Countless speeches and talks to local service organizations, churches, community groups on politics, history, culture and the arts, 1965-2019.
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Vice President, 1969-70.

Selected Publications

  • Bernardini, Gene, “The Origins and Development of Racial Anti-Semitism in Fascist Italy,” Journal of Modern History, Vol. 49 (September, 1977): 421-53;
  • Bernardini, Gene, “Anti-Semitism,” Historical Dictionary of Fascist Italy, Philip Cannistraro, (ed., Anthology), Greenwood Press, 1982, 28-30.
  • Bernardini, Eugene, proofed and reviewed A Study of American History, 1877-Present, Vol. II, Dushkin Publishers, 1973.

Personal Commentary

When I retired from SJSU in 1998 (over two decades ago), some of my predecessors told me, “You’ll be busier than ever and wonder how you ever found time to do your work before.” No truer cliché could describe my experience. Upon retirement, I enrolled in Adult Ed classes while serving on the boards of three disparate organizations for two decades each, the SJSU Chorale, theEmeritus and Retired Faculty Association and the Amici d’Oro, an Italian-American organization—all while continuing a half-century dedication to handball and racquetball, which may account for my health and longevity. Those years have been truly golden, enriched by family, friends, travel, writing, and a cornucopia of cultural activities.

Looking back, I can hardly believe my good fortune at having “found my way to San Jose”—both as a student and faculty member at SJSU. After squandering my two years at Chaffey Junior College (Ontario, CA) in a prolongation of adolescence, my first serious education began at UC Riverside, a newly-opened campus with a classical program of lectures and seminars based upon the Columbia University Great Books of Western Civilization. That two-year program was a transformative experience that awakened my love of history and the humanities.

I reluctantly left UCR to follow my other best love and wife-to-be, Genie, and transferred to SJSU. My reluctance to leave UCR quickly vanished when I found the History Department at SJSU to be first-rate at both teaching and scholarship. I took my BA and MA there, went on to UC Berkeley for my Ph.D., and was invited back to SJSU to help cope with the flood of Baby Boomers who were inundating the universities in the mid-60s. When SJSU decided to expand its new, experimental Humanities Honors Program into a full-fledged department, I was offered a tenure-track position in it.

My good fortune now seemed doubled. The new Humanities Department incorporated that same stellar program that I had experienced at UCR. It consisted of team-taught lectures, each one followed by a smaller discussion seminar. Its professors were chosen from the disciplines of history, literature, philosophy, art, music and rhetoric (speech and drama). SJSU was the only campus in the CSU System that offered such a program for fulfilling GE requirements at that time.

My decision to join the Humanities Department meant shifting my area of focus in History to the broader field of interdisciplinary education and cultural studies, a move I made willingly and never regretted. Teaching was always my priority and the Honors Program offered a unique opportunity to do that, by sharing lectures with gifted colleagues and meeting with students in seminars to discuss more intensively our primary-source readings of “the best that has been thought and said in the world.” In our upper-division courses, the mature, re-entry students who perennially populate SJSU courses brought their life experiences to bear, deepening classroom discussions and adding to everyone’s edification. All this put me in constant contact with colleagues and students of character and integrity—many becoming life-long friends who still honor me with their friendship. I feel blessed to have spent my life in such a profession. Throughout my entire career at SJSU, both as student and teacher, I can’t recall a day that I didn’t look forward to going to school.

Since its beginning in the late ‘60s, the Humanities Department has expanded and merged with other programs: American Studies, Comparative Religious Studies and Creative Arts. And to its earlier emphasis on Western Civilization, it’s recently added Asian and Middle-Eastern Studies programs. No doubt, there’ll be more to follow. Universities everywhere are being transformed by the current technological revolution with its powerful drive toward globalization and multiculturalism, and SJSU, situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, has fully embraced those changes, now calling itself “The Transformative University”—an apt description that mirrors my own experience there.

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