Rutgers School of Social Work faculty member and alum William “Bill” Waldman will retire from his position as Professor of Professional Practice effective July 1, 2019. Waldman has been a faculty member at the School since 2001 where he also serves as faculty advisor for the School’s Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Fellowship and Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Fellowship.
Waldman has fifty years of practice experience encompassing casework, supervision, management, policy development, and governance and has held leadership positions in numerous public and private organizations at the local, state, and national levels. He served as Commissioner of Human Services and a member of the Cabinet of three governors of the State of New Jersey. In addition to his teaching duties, he currently chairs or serves as a board member of several nonprofit human service organizations.
Cathryn Potter, Dean and Distinguished Professor at Rutgers School of Social Work says, “A devoted advocate and enthusiastic teacher, Bill’s impact on the field of social work cannot be overstated. We have been privileged to have him on our faculty for nearly two decades, and with his forthcoming departure, the School will work to honor his legacy by educating the leaders of tomorrow.”
Waldman remarks, “I have seen many changes in our profession in the course of my journey. I have witnessed the proliferation of social workers into many new domains of practice such as in schools, hospitals and health care initiatives, correctional facilities, reentry programs, hospice care, human resources in private industry, and many others. I have also witnessed the growth of social workers in management and policy positions and our participation in interdisciplinary initiatives. I have experienced truly breathtaking advances in applications of information technology to our work, the drive to empower those we serve, the growing emphasis on research and evidence-based practice, and the deepening commitment to social justice. One constant in my professional career has been Rutgers University School of Social Work.”
“I first enrolled as a graduate student in the MSW program in 1969 and later served as a field instructor and part time lecturer,” he explains. “As Commissioner of Human services in New Jersey I partnered with the School to conduct research and evaluate the outcome of various critical social welfare programs. I also had the opportunity to serve on the Rutgers University Board of Trustees and chair the Board’s Committee on Social Work.”
Waldman’s career in social work began at the Essex County Welfare Board in Newark, New Jersey where he was employed from 1965 to 1975. Initially a caseworker, he quickly advanced through a series of progressively responsible supervisory and administrative positions, including administering the County’s food stamp and employment and training programs. While in this position, Waldman earned his MSW degree from Rutgers School of Social Work and graduated from the program in 1972.
From 1975 through 1987, Waldman directed the New Jersey Department of Human Services in Middlesex County where he served as administrator of numerous county-based human services programs, managed a staff of sixty five employees, and administered an $8 million budget.
Deeply committed to serving the public, Waldman continued to work in various roles for the State of New Jersey from 1987 to 1998, including as Director of the Division of Youth and Family, Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, and a member of the cabinet for three governors.
As Commissioner of the Department of Human Services — New Jersey’s largest public agency — Waldman administered a $7 billion budget and managed a workforce of 19,000 employees who served over one million residents of the state. The Department encompassed seven operating divisions, including the Medicaid program, services to the mentally ill and developmentally disabled, the child welfare program, all public welfare programs, as well as services to the blind and visually impaired and the deaf and hard of hearing. He also had responsibility for eighteen institutions including psychiatric hospitals, developmental centers, children’s residential facilities, and a residential program for the blind.
Waldman later served as Executive Director of the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) in Washington, D.C. from 1998 to 2000. APHSA — a nonprofit whose members include the health and human service agencies in all fifty states, as well as many agencies in counties, municipalities, and US territories — aims to develop, promote, and assist its members in the implementation of sound public human services policies.
With a distinguished career dedicated to serving the public, Waldman received numerous awards and recognitions over the years. In 1982, he was named the National Association of Social Workers New Jersey (NASW-NJ) Social Worker of the Year, and in 2015 received the NASW-NJ’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also bestowed the John J. Heldrich Distinguished Leadership Award from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and the Mental Health Association in New Jersey Golden Bell Achievement Award in 2018.
In honor of his dedication to the field of social work as a whole — and particularly to the welfare of children — the New Jersey Community Development Corporation dedicated a building in Waldman’s name in 2008. The William Waldman Independence House in Paterson provides housing and supportive services for young people during their final years in the foster care system.
“We as social workers have accomplished much in improving the lives of our fellow citizens,” Waldman says. “We also have much further to go. We must always celebrate and further our unique commitment as a profession to social justice.”
Professor Waldman has requested that celebration of his work and retirement be directed to assist graduate students who would otherwise have difficulty attending or remaining in school as they balance it with family and work. Help us kick off our effort to raise $100,000 towards establishing the William Waldman Endowed Fellowship.