Ron Lewis, PhD ’74

Known as the “Father of American Indian Social Work,” Ron Lewis (PhD ’74) is among the profession’s true pioneers; a Cherokee, he was the first American Indian to earn a social work doctorate, to be tenured in the University of Wisconsin system, to attain the rank of Professor and to become a social work Dean in Canada. Lewis developed university curriculum, lectured widely and published extensively on federal Indian policies, child abuse and neglect, and alcoholism. His scholarship aided passage of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. Also a clinician, he developed culturally appropriate mental health programs throughout Oklahoma and served as Director of the Indian Liaison Office at Denver’s Fitzsimons Army Hospital.  A committed political activist, Lewis was at the 1969 takeover of Alcatraz Prison and the 1973 Wounded Knee Incident.

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