Bernard (Barney) Weissbourd enjoyed a life-long connection with the University of Chicago, beginning at age 15 when he received a full scholarship to attend the College. In these first years, Weissbourd was captivated by the University's intellectual life, his concentration in chemistry, and especially his study of the classics, a staple of the curriculum in the Hutchins era. When he graduated in 1941, he entered the law school. WWII interrupted his studies, but he remained at the University, having been assigned to work on the Manhattan Project, where he contributed to the discovery of an element. At the war's end, he returned to the law school and became an editor of the Law Review before graduating in 1948. He served the University as an active member of the Board of Trustees and as Trustee Emeritus until his death in 2000 at the age of 78.
Weissbourd was a scientist, attorney, urban planner, and a developer who had a dramatic impact on the skyline and the life of Chicago. He maintained a lifelong interest in civic affairs, working on issues ranging from race and poverty to nuclear arms. His interest in the relationship between human psychology and social institutions led him to found the Center for Psycho-Social Studies in the early 1970's. The Center became an important location for interdisciplinary dialogue, intellectual exploration, and the nurturing of promising young scholars.
The Bernard Weissbourd Memorial Fund for the Society of Fellows pays tribute to Barney Weissbourd's history of involvement with the University. The Fund reflects his abiding commitments to spirited inquiry, the excitement of learning, the power of discourse, and through all of these, the pursuit of a more just and humane society.