Summer 2018
School Updates

Dean's Message

Dean Larry E. Davis gives his final goodbye in this heartfelt message to the the School of Social Work which he ha grown to love over the past 17 years.

Greetings, alumni and friends,

In this, the 100th year of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, we have much to celebrate. It was an exciting year in that we brought back to the school many colleagues and friends who we had not seen for years. Our final event was held on April 20, when we were very fortunate to have George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor (at Washington University in St. Louis) Michael Sherraden here to give our centennial keynote address. He did an impressive job, as did the panelists who responded to his talk. I would like to thank and congratulate the entire centennial committee for all its planning and efforts throughout the year.

As the school enters its second century, we have much to be proud of. In many respects, it has been “the little school that could.” Few schools of social work of our size have obtained the level of excellence that we have managed to achieve. Despite having just 21 tenure-track faculty members, the caliber and productivity of our BSW, MSW, and PhD students, as well as that of our faculty and staff, have steadily improved. With notable input from the University, we have continued to enhance our community involvement. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has identified enhancing diversity and empowering the University’s immediate communities as two of Pitt’s five strategic goals. Needless to say, the School of Social Work is eager to adopt and assist with achieving these strategic priorities.

As has been true in the past, the School of Social Work has done well this year. Our student enrollment is up, as are the diversity and caliber of this year’s class. We have more grant activity than ever, publications are up, and our faculty are engaged in a variety of new and innovative projects. The construction of a new physical/mental health center is about to start. This year, the child welfare training program reached a total of more than one million people trained under the Act 31 of 2014 mandate for recognizing and reporting child abuse. The Center on Race and Social Problems enjoyed an impressive series of guest speakers, and just recently, we completed yet another successful study abroad trip to Cuba. Finally, this year, our journal, Race and Social Problems, received an impressive impact score. So, as the saying goes, it was a very good year.

Yet for me, this year is bittersweet: As the cover of this magazine indicates, I stepped down as dean at the end of this academic year, though I will continue as director of the Center on Race and Social Problems for another year. It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as dean of this school for the past 17 years. You likely have heard me say that coming to Pitt was the best decision I have ever made. Under the leadership of Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg and now Chancellor Gallagher, the University has provided me with unwavering support and numerous opportunities. For example, there would be no Center on Race and Social Problems without the University’s stepping up to fund it. The University promoted our community outreach efforts and awarded additional financial aid for our students. In sum, much of the success our school has experienced is a direct outcome of Pitt’s commitment to the work of this school.

I want to thank all of the marvelous students, faculty, and staff who have filled our halls and shared their passion and their service, teaching, and research excellence, infusing their efforts into everything we do. I also extend my appreciation to the foundations and businesses that have generously supported so many of the school’s initiatives.

This will be my last issue as editor of Bridges. We began Bridges 16 years ago not just to be a publication about school news but also to serve as a platform to feature and examine compelling social problems and describe how the school was responding to them.

Finally, I want to thank the entire Pittsburgh community for making these last 17 years the best in my life. Together we have made tremendous progress, and I firmly believe that during this time of divisiveness and need, the University, the school, and the region are positioned now more than ever to do truly great things and that we are ready for the challenges of the next 100 years.


With best wishes for the future,


Larry E. Davis

Dean and Donald M. Henderson Professor,

University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work,

and Director, Center on Race and Social Problems