Born into poverty, Robert L. Hawkins (MSW ’67) learned resilience early. Hired at 18 as a janitor at Pueblo’s Colorado State Hospital, he also pushed patients’ food carts through the hospital’s underground tunnels; it was a job he kept throughout college and graduate school. Gradually, he rose through the ranks at what became the Colorado Mental Health Institute and, in 1996, became the first social worker appointed as its Superintendent. Under Hawkins’ leadership, the Institute became a model psychiatric treatment facility. Until ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) claimed his life in 2002, he achieved local, state and national prominence, chairing Pueblo United Way and Colorado’s NAACP and NASW chapters, serving on the state’s Commission of Higher Education and (for 29 years) on its Civil Service Commission, and becoming Member Services VP for the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
Robert L. Hawkins, MSW ’67