May 23, 2014


James Herbert Williams (PhD '94) is the 2013 School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Dr. Williams grew up in rural North Carolina, one of seven children of a sharecropper father and mother who prized education. His parents died when he was 10, and he was subsequently raised by his grandmother. "When you don't grow up in privilege," says Williams, "you never take success for granted."

James Herbert WilliamsToday, Dr. Williams is the dean and the Milton Morris Endowed Chair at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. As dean, he has made it his mission to increase financial assistance to social work students, enhance academic rigor and expand faculty research--contribution that have significantly advanced the University of Denver's graduate social work program.

As a social work scholar, Dr. Williams work on human security, behavioral health disparities, health promotion and disease prevention, mental health, delinquency and social issues affecting the African-American community has been widely published in leading research journals. He also co-authored two books: Violence in Conflict (2011, Oxford University Press) and Conflict and Human Security in Africa, Kenya in Perspective (2011, Palgrave Macmillan Press) and penned numerous editorials, manuals and book chapters.

He is the current president of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, a member of the Commission on Educational Policy for the Council of Social Work Education and editor-in-chief for Social Work Research. In addition to his national commitments, Dr. Williams has extended his leadership skills to East and Southern Africa where he works with the United Nations Center for Regional Development to promote sustainable livelihoods, reduced conflict and enhanced human security in Kenya and Botswana.

Join Dean Williams in celebrating his selections as the School's 2013 distinguished alumnus at a special reception preceding our graduation ceremony on June 13 at the Alaska Airlines Arena in the Hec Edmundson Pavilion on the UW campus. The reception will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the pavilion's Founders Club. Please RSVP by contacting Greg Ross or call 206-221-7735. Guests attending the reception are welcome to attend the graduation celebration.

This prestigious award honors a School of Social Work graduate for exceptional service, social innovation or professional leadership. Past awardees include Wendy Lustbader, Norman Johnson, Ken Weinberg, Eric Pettigrew, Leah De Roulet, Perry Wien, Joe Bell and James Kelly.