Former member of Congress takes senior Touro post

J. Weekly, Thursday, January 9, 2014 

Former Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Democrat who represented Las Vegas and environs in Congress for 14 years, has been named CEO and senior provost of Touro University’s Western Division. 

She will oversee the Jewish-run university’s campuses on Mare Island (near Vallejo) and in Henderson, Nev. (outside Las Vegas). She will commute between both facilities, and will obtain a residence in Vallejo.

Married to a physician and adjunct professor at Touro, Berkley said she is looking forward to helping to make the university “a household name and explain to the communities the importance of the institutions to their surrounding areas.”

Touro University California and Touro University Nevada — which both offer degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacology and other health-related fields — are part of a nonprofit college and university system that serves some 19,000 students on 32 campuses worldwide.

The daughter of an Ashkenazi father and Sephardic mother, Berkeley, 62, said she was attracted to the Jewish values enshrined in Touro’s mission. The university was founded in 1970 by Orthodox Jews, maintains kosher campuses, and offers Shabbat and Jewish holiday celebrations.

“The values involve a commitment to social justice, intellectual pursuit and service to humanity,” she said. “This gives me an opportunity to continue my public service in a different arena.”

Born Rochelle Levine in New York City, Berkley has lived in the Las Vegas area for 50 years. She was elected to Congress in 1998 and served seven terms; in 2012, she narrowly lost a Senate race to Dean Heller. — dan pine