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MSW Class of 1966

The University System of Georgia established the University of Georgia School of Social Work in 1964. It was the second school of social work in the state after the Atlanta University School of Social Work (now the Whitney M. Young, Jr., School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University.), and the first state-funded school of social work.

Charles A. Stewart became the school’s first dean in January 1964; classes began in September at Waddell Hall on North Campus. In the spring of 1966 the Council on Social Work Education, the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the U.S., accredited the graduate program. The school moved to Candler Hall and in June of that year awarded its first Master of Social Work degrees to a cohort of 14 students (pictured above).

Early field internships and funding grants focused on training social workers in the areas of mental retardation, child abuse, mental health, public welfare, public school social work, and legal aid. In 1969 the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare designated the school as a regional research center in social welfare, one of four such centers nationwide and the only one in the Southeast. The center was active for a decade, producing research on child neglect and persistent poverty in the South.

In the 1970s the CSWE accredited a baccalaureate program and the master’s degree curriculum was revised to meet new CSWE requirements. Both programs grew rapidly. To accommodate the increased enrollment, the school moved to Tucker Hall on South Campus.

In 1981 the school launched a part-time Master of Social Work degree program that made graduate social work education accessible to nontraditional students. First offered in Atlanta, Savannah and Athens, today it is based at the Gwinnett Campus. Faculty also began planning the curriculum for a doctoral degree.

The Board of Regents approved the doctoral program in 1990. Initially proposed as an academic research degree emphasizing mental health, the program broadened to include all aspects of social work research. Four years later, the school also established its first international program in partnership with the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico, a collaboration that lasted a decade.

Bonnie Yegidis became dean in 1995. During her tenure the school welcomed the first federal training program for child welfare practitioners in Georgia, as well as two endowed professorships––the Thomas M. “Jim” Parham Professorship and the Pauline M. Berger Professorship––that focused on the areas of child and family policy and family and child welfare, respectively. The school also introduced study abroad programs in Ghana and Argentina and, in collaboration with the School of Public and International Affairs, the Master of Arts in Nonprofit Organizations. Additionally, the school brought in several visiting international faculty and established a service learning experience that enabled students to work with burn-injured children. During this period an interdisciplinary group of faculty also initiated the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies, in partnership with the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies.

Maurice Daniels succeeded Dean Yegidis in 2005. During his tenure, two professorships were endowed: the Donald L. Hollowell Distinguished Professorship of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies, and the Georgia Athletic Association Professorship in Health and Well-Being. The former is the university’s first distinguished professorship named for an African American. The latter was funded by the Georgia Athletic Association and focuses on teaching, research and service related to health disparities. The school also expanded its international programs and developed three dual graduate degrees–– social work and law,social work and public health and social work and divinity. In addition, the school established the Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights and began co-sponsoring with the Center an annual lecture named in honor of Donald L. Hollowell, the pioneering civil rights advocate. In 2014 the school celebrated its 50th anniversary, and in 2015 the school moved to 279 Williams Street.

Anna Scheyett became the school's fourth dean on July 1, 2016.

Since its founding in 1964, the school has conferred more than 5,000 degrees. From eight initial faculty the school has grown to include a teaching and support staff of more than 40 tenured or tenure-track faculty, lecturers, part-time faculty and academic professionals. The school continues to develop student scholarships and endowed professorships, and introduce new interdisciplinary degree programs. The school’s faculty publish extensively in peer-reviewed journals and work across a broad spectrum of issues to inform public policy and assist marginalized populations.

As it advances into the 21st century, the School of Social Work remains committed to broadening UGA’s mission of teaching, research, and service. Perhaps more importantly, the UGA School of Social Work continues to prepare graduates who are passionate about making this a better, more humane and just world for all.