Social work dean steps down


Since 2001, Larry E. Davis has helped the university’s School of Social Work to be among the top 10 in the nation. (Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh)

By Rachel Glasser | News Editor

Pitt’s dean of the School of Social Work Larry E. Davis will step down at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.

Davis is the third University dean this year to announce he will step down in the spring. Swanson School of Engineering dean Gerald Holder and School of Law dean William M. Carter, Jr. announced over the summer that they would return to full-time teaching positions at the University.

While the University has not said whether Davis will continue to work at Pitt in another capacity, a University press release said Davis “intends to remain active, including writing, teaching and advocating for social causes.”

Edward Stricker, former dean of the Honors College, and John Cooper, former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, returned to teaching this year after announcing their intentions to step down within two weeks of each other during the summer of 2016. This makes five school deans that the University has had to work to replace within two years.

Davis assumed the position of dean in 2001, and under his leadership, the School of Social Work advanced to be among the top 10 social work schools in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. The school will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year — the same year its dean will depart.

Chancellor Gallagher credited Davis with transforming Pitt into one of the nation’s top destinations to study social work. Gallagher said Davis’ dedication to issues of civil rights and social justice have “inspired countless other to follow in his footsteps.”

“Our University community is grateful for his many contributions, and our world is a better, fairer place because of his efforts,” Gallagher said in the press release.

Davis was the founding director of the school’s Center on Race and Social Problems — established in 2002 — and as such has worked to advance applied social science research on race, ethnicity and color.

Davis earned his bachelor’s in psychology from Michigan State University and a master’s in social work and a master’s in psychology from the University of Michigan. He was also the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. from the dual-degree program in social work and psychology at the University of Michigan.

Pitt said it will form a search committee to identify Davis’ successor, although the University did not say when it will form the committee. Patricia Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor, said in the press release that Davis’ leadership has positioned the School of Social Work for continued recognition and success.

“His impact on the school and the University will be felt for years to come,” Beeson said.