We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Lewayne “Lew” Gilchrist, who served the School in numerous ways for nearly two decades. Lew died suddenly on Jan. 25 at the age of 76.

From 1988–1995, Lew was the School’s inaugural associate dean for research, working tirelessly to increase NIH-funded research. Her efforts were so successful that the School was named first in the nation among schools of social work for federal research funding. She also served as director of the NIMH-funded Prevention Research Center from 1996–2001, doctoral program director from 2000–2003, and interim dean from 2003–2004.

A highly respected prevention researcher, Lew was renowned nationally and internationally for her scientific contributions in the areas of HIV/AIDS risk reduction, drug use among pregnant and parenting teens, and the prevention of unhealthy behaviors among teens. Her collaborations with colleagues led to one of the longest longitudinal studies of parenting and pregnant teens ever conducted.

When announcing Lew’s passing, Dean Eddie Uehara and Dean Emeritus Nancy R. Hooyman cited Lew’s distinguished track record as faculty member, mentor and colleague. “She was an immensely gifted and generous mentor to faculty and doctoral students alike, supporting their efforts in writing grants, conceptualizing and designing research projects, and writing for publication,” they noted. “She derived tremendous satisfaction from such mentoring and collaborating.”

Lew worked with more doctoral students than any other faculty member in the School’s history. When she retired in October 2007, she was given a quilt (pictured right) where every patch was created by faculty, staff, doctoral students and alumni. The Doctoral Mentor Award bears her name in recognition of her exemplary commitment to doctoral education. 

No matter what challenges Lew was facing in her faculty or administrative roles, she often closed her emails with an uplifting “Onward!,” recalled her colleagues who benefited from her innumerable contributions to the School and to their lives.

Lew is remembered for her quick wit, hearty laugh, keen intellect and deep curiosity as well as her compassion for, and commitment to, vulnerable populations, especially mothers and children. She took pride in being a graduate of the School’s MSW and doctoral programs. During her retirement years, she enjoyed travel, the arts, and spending time with her family. She leaves behind her husband, Jim, their two sons and five grandchildren. 

A memorial serviceLew Gilchrist: Celebration of Life— will be held at 1 p.m. on March 4, UW Waterfront Activities Center's Great Room, 3710 Montlake Blvd., Seattle, WA 98195. If you cannot attend and would like to send a message or a story to be included in a book for Lew's family, please send your email to Gunnar Almgren. 

The family has requested that In lieu of sending flowers, a donation may be made online to the UW School of Social Work's C. Wayne Dorman Endowed Fellowship​, or by sending a check to: UW School of Social Work, Office of Advancement, 4101 15th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98105. Please note the name of the fund on your check. Thank you.