Bersia, John C(esar) 1956-
BERSIA, John C(esar) 1956-
Born November 23, 1956, in Orlando, FL; son of Alfred F. and Rose-Marie (Idromasia) Bersia. Education: University of Central Florida, B.A., 1977; Georgetown University, M.A., 1979; American University, M.S., 1980; London School of Economics, M.Sc., 1981. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, travel, cooking.
Office—University of Central Florida, Global Perspectives Office, PH 202, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., P.O. Box 160003, Orlando, FL 32816-0003. E-mail—[email protected].
Dexter Press, Orlando, FL, distributor, 1975-77; U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC, intern, analyst, 1978-79; American University, Washington, DC, staff associate, 1979-80; Global Perspectives: An Interdisciplinary Journal of International Relations, editor and consultant, 1981, editor in chief, 1982-85; Global Perspectives Research Group, Casselberry, FL, president, 1983-85; Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, FL, editorial board member, 1985-2001, foreign affairs columnist, 2001—; University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, professor and special assistant to the president for global perspectives, 2001—. Transnational Studies Association, Orlando, FL, director, 1982-85; University of Central Florida, adjunct professor of political science, 1990-2001; Rollins College, Winter Park, FL, adjunct professor of political science, 1993—; Global Communications for Central Florida, founder and chair, 1999—.
London School of Economics Society, American Friends of London School of Economics, Citrus Club, Georgetown Club Metro Orlando (board of directors, 1996), Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa.
Named to Outstanding Young Men of America, Jaycees, 1978; fellow, Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, University of Maryland, 1991; Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, University of Central Florida, 2000; Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, and Walker Stone Award, Scripps Howard Foundation, both 2000, for Orlando Sentinel series "Fleeced in Florida," on car-title and payday loan rates; and Walker Stone Award, Scripps Howard Foundation; first place Green Eyeshades editorial award, Society of Professional Journalists; editorial award, Florida Society of Newspapers.
Contributor to newspapers and magazines.
John C. Bersia, a longtime member of the editorial board of Florida's Orlando Sentinel newspaper, received a Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for writing a series of editorials throughout 1999 under the heading "Fleeced in Florida." The series dealt with the high interest rates charged by companies that make loans against individuals' car titles or next paycheck. The editorials demonstrated that the annual interest on car-title-loans reached as high as 264 percent, and on payday loans, even higher. The market for such loans is made up primarily of people with low incomes and poor credit histories. "Through exhaustive reporting and analysis," related David D. Porter in a Sentinel profile of Bersia, "he exposed companies that have made a fortune exploiting Florida's working people who sometimes need small loans to make ends meet." Bersia also won the Scripps Howard Foundation's Walker Stone Award for this series, which not only drew attention to how much interest was being charged to those who could ill afford it but also called for the rate to be regulated. More than thirty Florida counties and cities responded by setting a limit of about thirty percent on these loans, and in 2000 the Florida state legislature passed, and Gov. Jeb Bush signed, a law capping car-title loan interest at thirty percent. The following year the state enacted a law regulating payday loans so that the average borrower would pay no more than fifty percent annualized interest.
In 2001, Bersia took a full-time position with the University of Central Florida, where he had served as an adjunct professor for several years, as a professor and special assistant to the president. He continued as chair of Global Connections for Central Florida, an organization that holds town meetings to promote global awareness, which moved into headquarters at the university, and remained with the Sentinel part-time as a columnist on global affairs. His columns have tackled such subjects as international terrorism, the 2003 Iraq war, tensions between the United States and Iran, and globalization of commerce.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Orlando Sentinel, April 11, 2000, Jeff Kunerth, "Sentinel's Bersia Wins a Pulitzer," April 12, 2000, David D. Porter, "The Story Behind Winning of Pulitzer," p. D2; October 11, 2001, Scott Powers, "Pulitzer Winner Goes Back to College," p. D3.*