Professor Walter Berns Remembered

The Fund for American Studies, January 2015.


In 1993, when TFAS launched its Prague-based American Institute on Political and Economic Systems (AIPES), Berns lectured on political philosophy and the U.S. Constitution. It was fitting that this great scholar of philosophy and constitutional law would present the universal ideas of liberty to students from countries who had just gained freedom from communism. Georgetown Professor Michael Collins remarked, “It was a privilege to work with him in Prague that first year and to listen to his lectures on the Constitution. I admired him and was happy to have his friendship.”

Tony Mecia (ICPES 92), a TFAS alumnus and program assistant during that first program in Prague, commented, “Professor Berns was a giant, but he was very approachable. I remember one very engaging back-and-forth on the merits of the Electoral College, which was not necessarily a popular opinion. His explanation of the moderating influences of the Electoral College still sticks with me every time I hear someone say it’s an anachronism and we should go to popular election of presidents.”

A legendary professor who taught at seven different universities, Berns helped imbue his love of the United States and the U.S. Constitution in the minds of his students. Berns believed America was special because its Constitution is based on the universal principles of liberty; he lamented that “there are now professors who doubt that a nation founded on those principles is entitled to affection.”

The Fund for American Studies