NASW Foundation National
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Donald Beless (1938 -)
- For 15 years Donald Beless led the Council on Social Work Education , Alexandria VA, through a series of critical decisions and challenging opportunities. As executive director he was responsible for the overall administration of CSWE, the sole accrediting agency for social work education in the U.S. overseeing accreditation of approximately 450 undergraduate and 170 Master's degree programs in social work. He assumed leadership of CSWE in 1988 as it was struggling with financial and organizational crises, which had put both its future and relationship to the profession's educational enterprise in jeopardy. Under his leadership, CSWE regained stability, re-established the trust of undergraduate and graduate programs, greatly strengthened its educational policy and accreditation functions, and developed numerous new programs in support of social work education and research. During his tenure CSWE successfully resolved a threatened and divisive lawsuit over inclusion accreditation standards. He also engineered the organization's move to new quarters in Virginia, assuring needed capacity for expanding programs while improving the organization's fiscal circumstances. His astute fiscal management and deeply respectful and collegial relationships promoted professional growth and unity within the academic enterprise as well as with the larger practice community.
- Beless began his career as a caseworker for the New England
Home for Little Wanderers in Boston, MA, from 1961-62. After completing master's and doctoral work at the University of Chicago School of Social Administration, he joined the faculty there from 1969-1985, eventually serving as Associate Dean of Students for the entire University. He was Director and Professor of the Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville (1985-1988). While there the school successfully obtained reaccreditation after probation prior to Beless's arrival, enrollment increased 62 percent, and both external funding and scholarly productivity increased significantly. While in academia he taught research methods classes and served as research consultant to the Minnesota Citizen's Council on Crime and Justice (1980); the Wisconsin Juvenile Detention Innovation Project (1975); and for an evaluation of the Third Party Custodian Release Program in Washington, D.C. (1974-75)
Significant Achievements & Awards Received
- Beless graduated with a BA in History from Wheaton College in Wheaton IL. He received his AM and Ph.D. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. He has served as an Elder and Director of Counterpoint, an adult Christian education program focusing on the intersection of faith and life at the Vienna, VA Presbyterian Church. He has been an enthusiastic runner and spinner, regardless of workload.
- International Association of Schools of Social Work (resident treasurer 1988 to 2003; chair of website committee 2003-05; steering committee for 1992 World Assembly);
Metro United Way, Louisville, KY (chair of planning and research committee, 1985-88) NASW Continuing Education Committee, Louisville, Kentucky (1985-88) Chair, Advisory Committee on Department of Human Services to Jefferson County, Kentucky U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2003 - "In recognition of contributions to Veterans Health Administration"Korea Association of Schools of Social Work, 1996 - "For continuing contribution toward the improvement of social work education in Korea"University of Louisville, 1987 - "Outstanding Performance Award for Administration"
- Beless, Donald W. "Univariate Analysis: Measures of Central Tendency and Variability." Social Work Research and Evaluation. Richard M. Grinnell, Jr. (Ed.). Itasca, IL: F.E. Peacock, 1981.
- Beless, Donald W. (1974). "The Challenge of the Future in Social Work." The Paraclete, Winter,
- Beless, Donald W., Pilcher, William S. and Ryan, Ellen Jo. (1972). "Use of Indigenous Non-professionals in Probation and Parole." Federal Probation, XXXVI, 10-15.