Norman Greenberg obituary

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Headshot, Dr. Norman C. Greenberg.

Dr. Norman C. Greenberg

Dr. Norman C. Greenberg, a leader in broadening the scope of Western Michigan University's global engagements, died May 26. He was 93.

Greenberg joined the WMU faculty in 1972 as dean of the College of General Studies and a professor of anthropology and social science. In addition, he was named dean of international education and programs in 1981 and put in charge of the Office of International Education and Programs.

He retired in 1992 as an emeritus professor and senior advisor to the president for international affairs after nearly 20 years of service to the University. His wife, Dr. Gilda Greenberg, WMU professor emerita of humanities and social science, survives.

Dr. Norman Greenberg

Greenberg headed the international education and programs office during a time of expansion in the 1980s and 1990s under then-President Diether H. Haenicke, who made global engagement a high priority for the University.

During his tenure, significant increases were seen in institutional linkages, faculty exchanges and partnerships, study abroad opportunities for domestic students, international student enrollment, and many other areas. Moreover, Greenberg helped boost the number of academic program offerings with an international focus as well as promoted efforts to bring a global perspective into additional classrooms.

When the general studies college was dissolved in 1989 and restructured as a department, Greenberg retained his faculty posts as well as remained in charge of the Office of International Education and Programs. His administrative title was changed soon after to senior advisor to the president for international affairs. The move had him reporting directly to WMU's president on the planning and implementation of new initiatives in the international arena.

Initially, he planned to have a career in music as a French horn player. His studies were interrupted when he enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War II and spent 1942 to 1945 in the military. He completed those studies after the war and spent seven years as a freelance musician working for organizations such as the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Radio City Music Hall Symphony and CBS TV Orchestra.

The famed anthropologist Margaret Mead learned that Greenberg had wider interests than music and took him under her wing, guiding him to a graduate degree in anthropology and sociology. Early in this second career, Greenberg worked in New Mexico as a teacher and principal at schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and later at other elementary schools in the state. He went on to serve three years as an assistant professor of education at the University of Arizona and another eight years as an associate professor of anthropology and education at George Peabody College.

However, Greenberg remained interested in music throughout his professional life, leading the WMU Brass Quintet at WMU and performing with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra when he was working at the University.

Greenberg earned a bachelor's degree in music from the Julliard School of Music, a master's degree in anthropology and sociology from Columbia University and a doctoral degree in administration and anthropology-sociology from Columbia, plus did extensive postdoctoral coursework at various institutions.