Originally posted on the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) website

Richard L. Edwards, PhD, MA, has been a social worker since his graduation from Augustana College in 1965, and began his career as a social work trainee at Chicago State Hospital. He subsequently earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. After several years at the Illinois Department of Mental Health and at agencies serving children and families, he returned to Augustana where he taught and served as founding director of its undergraduate social work major. During that time, he was elected president of his local NASW chapter and in 1972, received the chapter’s Social Worker of the Year Award for outstanding contributions. From 1974 to 1978, he worked at the NASW national office, directing the chapter services office and later the continuing education and professional development programs. In 1986, he earned his PhD in public administration and policy at the State University of New York at Albany, receiving the Distinguished Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Over the years, Dr. Edwards has devoted his life to educating generations of social workers.He has served as a faculty member, field education director, associate dean and/or dean at several schools of social work. He served as Associate Dean and Acting Dean at the School of Social Work at the State University of New York at Albany, and as Dean at Case Western Reserve University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also served for nearly a year as Interim Provost. Later, at Rutgers University, Dr. Edwards served as Dean of the School of Social Work and then served as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, as Interim President, and then for five years as Chancellor. For the past academic year, he was called upon to serve as Interim Dean of the Rutgers School of Social Work during its search for a new dean. Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Edwards also served in a variety of nonprofit and public organizations as a consultant and has served on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations.

Throughout his lifetime of achievement and commitment to social work values as a practitioner and educator, Dr. Edwards continued to be actively involved in NASW at the state chapter and regional levels and later at the national level. In 1987, he received the Social Worker of the Year Award from the NASW New York State Chapter. That same year, he was elected as a member-at-large to the NASW Board of Directors, and later was elected Treasurer. From 1989 to 1991, Dr. Edwards took the helm as NASW’s President and provided governance oversight and leadership of the organization.

Dr. Edwards has been honored with prestigious recognitions such as the Edith Abbott Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Distinguished Professorship, a Fulbright Senior Scholar award, and the Chauncey Alexander Lifetime Achievement Award. His contributions extend through eighteen authored or co-authored books, including serving as Editor-in-Chief for the three-volume set of the Encyclopedia of Social Work 19th Edition and the related supplement, published by the NASW Press.Additionally he has peer-reviewed more than thirty articles, twenty-five book chapters and conference proceedings, thirty-four manuals or brief articles, editorials, and book reviews, thirteen editorial assignments, and more than sixty conference presentations. His dedication to professional and community service is reflected in his membership and leadership service in numerous organizations. His expansive list of academic service activities, teaching and research agendas, global faculty appointments, and dissertation committees has continued over the lifetime of his career. Notably, he has successfully secured grants and contracts totaling more than 46 million dollars with his name listed as the principal investigator.

For his unwavering dedication to a lifelong career that has profoundly influenced social work education, institutions, faculty, and generations of social workers, we applaud and honor Dr. Richard L. Edwards as the recipient of the NASW National Lifetime Achievement Award.