The Berlin Family

Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin are Chicago philanthropists and longtime supporters of the University of Chicago. Randy Lamm Berlin, AM’77, is a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and a member and past chairperson of the Division of the Humanities’ Visiting Committee. Melvin R. Berlin is Chairman Emeritus and founder of Berlin Packaging, LLC. The Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Lectures are named in honor of their $3 million gift to the Division of the Humanities.

“The humanities provide a powerful lens for exploring the richness of human civilization and experience,” the Berlins said. “By engaging the most talented humanistic thinkers of our time, we hope that the Berlin Family Lectures will excite the broader University and Chicago community to think critically about our enduring values, make us aware of the possibility of alternative perspectives, and extend our understanding of human nature."

The Berlins are strong advocates for the Division of the Humanities with a particular interest in the academic study of great works of Western literature. A 2008 gift established the Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Professor of the Development of the Novel in English, currently held by Maud Ellmann. They also provided support for the 2013 “Forms of Fiction: The Novel in English” conference, a three-day event exploring four of the most-read novels in the English-language canon and featured lectures by A.S. Byatt and Tom McCarthy.  

“This gift is just one of many ways Randy and Melvin Berlin have demonstrated their belief in the value of the humanities as an essential part of the intellectual life of the University of Chicago. I am grateful for their generosity and vision, and I am confident that our University community and friends in the city will be enriched by the Berlin Family Lectures and by the publications for generations to come,” said Martha T. Roth, former dean of the Division of the Humanities and the Chauncey S. Boucher Professor in Near Eastern Languages and the Oriental Institute.