NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Norman Polansky (1918 - 2002)
Norman Polansky, Regent's Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia School of Social Work, was recognized as a pioneer in social work research. He was a major contributor to studies in the mental health field. Author of numerous books and more than 100 professional articles and monographs focusing on social work research and practice as well as issues of social isolation and child neglect, he is best known for Ego Psychology and Communication and Social Work Research.
After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he was a social psychologist at Austin-Rigs Center in Massachusetts and head of psychology at Highland Hospital in Asheville, N. C. He later taught at Case Western Reserve, Smith College and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the University of Georgia faculty.
Polansky received his undergraduate degree from Harvard, his master's in Social Service Administration from Case Western Reserve and his doctorate from the University of Michigan.
He was a member of NASW's Board of Directors and served on the editorial boards of Social Work and other publications including Child Welfare and Research on Social Work Practice. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. In the 1950's he was a consultant to the National Institute of Mental Health, where he helped to develop a new applied research grant program directed toward improvements in the care, treatment and rehabilitation of the mentally ill.
A Life Fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, he received the Special Service Award from the Georgia Council on Child Abuse, the Vincent de Francis Award from the American Humane Association, the Frankie V. Adams Award for lifetime service to people, the Distinguished Practitioner Award from the National Academies of Practice and the Creative Research Medal from the University of Georgia. In 1991, Polansky was given the NASW President's Award for Excellence in Social Work Research.