NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Richard L. Edwards
Richard L. Edwards is a well-known scholar, educator, administrator, and innovative leader for the institutions for which he has been Dean of the Schools of Social Work at Rutgers, State University of New Jersey; Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, and the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Under his leadership at the UNC at Chapel Hill from 1992 to 2000, new doctoral and certificate programs were developed at the School of Social Work, while external funding for research, training and technical assistance increased dramatically. Under his leadership at Rutgers, he led development of a new Institute for Families and four new academic centers.
As a scholar, Edwards has studied the management and organizational effectiveness of public-sector and nonprofit organizations. He has been a visiting professor at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and Memorial University in Newfoundland Canada. He served as a consultant for the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute on the development of gerentology education for professionals in eighteen central and eastern European countries. In 2008, Edwards spent several weeks at Ben Gurion University in Israel as a Fulbright Senior Specialist.
Edwards is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and served as Editor and Chief of the 19th Edition of the Encyclopedia of Social Work, published in 1996. He has served on the editorial boards of several professional journals and served for several years as an associate editor of North America For Social Work Education: The International Journal. His particular areas of scholarship include the impact of social policy on service delivery, organizational and leadership effectiveness, and social work services in rural areas.
Dr. Edwards has served in a number of leadership capacities within NASW at the local, state, regional, and national levels. He has been a chapter president, regional coalition chairperson, delegate to several Delegate Assemblies, member of various national committees, member of the national Board of Directors, and National Treasurer. In addition, he has served as a board member for numerous social agencies and was elected to a local Board of Education. He was selected as NASW Social Worker of the Year in 1972 by the Iowa-Illinois Quad Cities Chapter and in 1987 by the New York State Chapter.
He served a 2 year term, from 1989 to 1991, as President of the National Association of Social Workers. While he was President, NASW produced and introduced into Congress the first comprehensive, fully costed-out national health care reform proposal. Although the plan was not enacted, it contributed significantly to the national debate, and raised the visibility of social work regarding the issue.