Clark Atlanta University was founded in 1988 with the historic consolidation of Atlanta University (1867) and Clark College (1869). However, the origins of a school of social work at the university began with the New Orleans meeting of the National Conference of Social Work in the spring of 1920. During the conference, a group of Atlanta social workers led by Jesse O. Thomas, the southern field executive secretary of the National Urban League, protested segregation at the event and called a meeting to discuss the possibility of establishing a school of social work in Atlanta. After a series of meetings with local social agencies, educational institutions and others, the Atlanta School of Social Work was founded as an independent institution on October 4, 1920.
Membership in the American Association of Schools of Social Work was granted to the Atlanta School of Social Work in 1928, which made it the first African American School of Social Work to be accredited in the world. The early curriculum of the Atlanta School of Social Work reflected the belief that those serving African American people needed not only basic social work education, but also additional learning directed specifically towards the African American community. Forrester B. Washington, Director of the Atlanta School of Social Work from 1927 to 1947, and the Atlanta University School of Social Work from 1947 to 1954 noted in his writings, “The existence of black people in a predominantly unsympathetic hostile world is sufficient for specialized training for social work in the black community; for this position, the writer makes no apologies.”
On September 1, 1947, the Atlanta School of Social Work gave up its independent charter and became a part of Atlanta University. When the American Association of Schools of Social Work was renamed the Council on Social Work Education in 1952, the Atlanta University School of Social Work became a chartered member. In 1979, the Baccalaureate Social Work Program was also established at Clark College and accredited in 1981. In 1988, Atlanta University School of Social Work, formerly known as Atlanta School of Social Work became Clark Atlanta University School of Social Work. Twelve years later (2000), Clark Atlanta University re-named the School in honor of its first dean, Whitney M. Young, Jr.
The Whitney M. Young, Jr., School of Social Work (WMYJSSW) has maintained its accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation since 1952. The Baccalaureate Social Work Program was established at Clark College in 1979 and accredited in 1981. Both programs have been continuously reaccredited, since their accreditation date. Fundamental to the Whitney M. Young, Jr., School of Social Work mission, goals, and objectives is the fostering in students of a commitment to serve oppressed populations and to promote social and economic justice. Hence, the Mission of the School is shaped by its rich history and by its particular focus on educating African American social workers. Its doors, however, have always been open to students from other racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic background.
Legacy of Leadership
- 1920-1921 -
Gary W. Moore- the Chairman of the Department of Sociology and Economics at Morehouse College who served as the school’s first director.
- 1922-1926 -
Franklin Frazier- a prominent Black sociologist and the first Black to serve as President of American Sociological Association was the director of the school for four years.
- 1927-1954 -
Forrester B. Washington- need short blurb here
- Whitney M. Young Jr. 1954-1961
- William S. Jackson, B.A. 1961 – 1968
- Genevieve T. Hill, MSS 1968 – 1979
- Clarence D Coleman, D.H. 1979 – 1984
- Creigs C. Beverly, Ph.D. 1984 – 1986
- Dorcas Bowles, Ed.D. 1986 – 87, 1998 – 2003
- Lou Beasley, Ph.D. 1989 – 1994
- Rufus Sylvester Lynch, Ph.D. 2004 – 2007
- Vimala Pillari, Ph.D. 2008 – 2015
- Jenny Jones, Ph.D. 2015 – Present