Update: A memorial service for Dennis Berg will be held at 11 am. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Ruby Gerontology Center’s Mackey Auditorium at CSUF.
Dennis F. Berg, professor emeritus of sociology whose international travels helped Cal State Fullerton establish global connections in Vietnam and China, died Jan. 19. He was 77.
Berg, twice named a Fulbright Scholar, joined the CSUF faculty in 1970 and held a number of administrative posts before being awarded emeritus status in 2008. An Air Force veteran, Berg earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from CSUF in 1967 and 1968, respectively, and his doctorate in sociology from USC in 1974.
During his first Fulbright, he spent the 2001-02 academic year in Vietnam working with Vietnam National University. The second time, he spent 10 months in Hong Kong.
Berg first visited Vietnam in 1991 as part of a delegation training English teachers. He returned numerous times in the years that followed to serve as an exchange professor and expert on higher education.
Following his retirement, he spent most of his time in Vietnam, where he served as a foreign adviser/facilitator for the Southeast Asian Ministries of Education. He continued to teach under a grant from the Vietnam Education Foundation in Washington, D.C., and also found time to teach in Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2010, Berg, along with Thomas Klammer, then-dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was awarded Vietnam’s National Medal for Education Achievements, the highest honor bestowed on educators. They were the first foreign recipients to receive this medal.
“I never dreamed of such an award and, if I had, I would have never thought it was in my reach,” Berg said at the time. “I’ve worked blindly in Vietnam, just trying one thing after another, never counting the days or years or trips or students or campuses. The point was to make a difference in lives. I think over time, I did that. But, this medal from the government is pretty special. I knew they were watching me for security purposes, but I didn’t expect to ever be recognized.”
He is survived by his wife, Hoa; sons Jason Berg and Jeff Berg; stepdaughters, Mandy Ha Nguyen and Jennifer Koepsell; and grandchildren.