Oliver Harris, PhD ’73

Through both professional achievements and philanthropy, Dorothy V. Harris (MSW ’68) and Oliver C. Harris (PhD ’73) have had a tremendous national impact on the field of social work. A native of Panama, Dorothy was a business major in Iowa when volunteering at a community center ignited her passion for helping others.  Involved with Head Start since the program’s inception, she assumed leadership of its National Resource Center  in 1990. She also oversaw implementation of six national Children’s Bureau conferences on child abuse and neglect.

In 1985, Dorothy became the fourth woman and first African American elected President of NASW. Her other positions have included Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Expert Advisor on Child Care Issues to the Social Security Administration’s Commissioner, and Director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Youth in Maryland. Today, Dorothy is Senior Vice President at Paltech, a government consulting and management firm. She received an NASW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Before his death in 2009 at age 86, Oliver was Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland at Baltimore and former Associate Dean of the School of Social Work and Community Planning. The author of numerous articles and research studies, his co-authored book, Family Treatment in Social Work Practice, has been a staple for many years at universities across the country. In 1983, the Harrises established the Deborah Harris Memorial Fund at Temple University following the tragic murder of Oliver’s daughter.

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