For the Common Good: Essays of Harold Lewis

For the Common Good: Essays of Harold Lewis

For the Common Good: Essays of Harold Lewis

For the Common Good: Essays of Harold Lewis

Synopsis

Harold Lewis has long been acknowledged as one of the intellectual leaders of the social work profession and as a scholar who was deeply involved in the social and political issues of his times. Over the course of his distinguished fifty-year career, Dr Lewis promoted the causes of peace, social justice, and human dignity, and published well over one hundred scholarly articles and monographs. For the Common Good is a collection of those papers that best reflect Lewis's compassionate vision and his insights into the nature and purpose of social work practice. His ideas about social work epistemology, values, ethics, and education are still fresh, compelling, and vital to shaping the profession's future.

Excerpt

When I became the 10th President of Hunter College in 1980, Harold Lewis had been Dean of the School of Social Work for ten years, and the School was flourishing under his leadership. Dr. Lewis had recruited a number of new faculty, who joined that already stellar group of social workers who had come to the School from health and social service agencies and institutions, other universities, and government. in those years, he had also established himself as a leader in the College. During the summer before I took office, my predecessor as President, Jacqueline G. Wexler, generously gave me briefings about the College. She sang the praises of Dean Lewis, whom she described as one of the most brilliant, erudite, articulate, ethical, and hard-working people she had ever known. "But, my," President Wexler added, "he does talk fast!"

And later one of his colleagues who had gone to graduate school with him told me that the distinguished Professor Marian Hathway of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, one of Dr. Lewis's most admired mentors, had told him when he was a second year student that he would have to learn to speak more slowly. Other people, Professor Hathway said, could not follow the rapidity of his words (or the complexity, sometimes, of his thinking), and if he were to become the intellectual leader of his profession, as Professor Hathway and others predicted, he would need to slow down and take the pace of others into consideration. Not everyone, Professor Hathway told Harold Lewis, was from Brooklyn as he was, and not everyone had a Brooklyn accent. Moreover, she added, not everyone thought and talked as fast as he did.

At Hunter, the School of Social Work, with Dr. Lewis as Dean and with the support of the philanthropist Samuel J. Silberman (Buddy to all of us who counted him as a friend), became a center of excellence in the College, the profession, New York City, the nation, and the international community. Dean Lewis encouraged faculty to do research, write, and take leadership in professional, social action, and civic organizations. the faculty was a diverse one, representing the various social work methods, fields of practice, and areas of expertise. Faculty meetings were often the forum for lively discussions of issues facing the profession, and there were consequential differences among the faculty. Never, however, in the years of my tenure as President of Hunter, did those differences become matters of personality or ideology: not with Harold Lewis, opinionated and ideological as he could be, as Dean and intellectual leader. He valued his colleagues, and he

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