In memoriam: Patricia Ewalt, dedicated student advocate and dean of social work

Patricia Ewalt
Patricia Ewalt

A strong partnership between the university Hawaii in the Manoa Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health and community organizations that offer students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience have been established Patricia Ewaltdean of the school from 1986 to 2000, who prioritized these relationships and brought them to the forefront of social work education in Hawaii. Ewalt died on January 8 of this year, but her legacy in UH lives on.

Today, social work students continue to benefit from the partnerships she created and strengthened, such as with Queen’s Medical Center, Queen’s Liliuakalani Children’s center and st Hawaii Division of Mental Health, State Department of Corrections.

“As head of education, Dr. Patricia Youalt has demonstrated a keen understanding of the intersection of research and practice,” said Noreen Mokuau, who recently retired as dean of the Thompson School and now serves as professor emeritus. “She has served as a role model for educators in developing and imparting knowledge into practice that has unique significance for different peoples Hawaii“- said Mokuau.

Ewalt shifted the school’s emphasis to multicultural education as a priority. She championed courses that taught students about Native Hawaiian culture and how it influences social work practice. She has expanded faculty diversity in her hiring decisions.

“As president of the National Association of Social Workers and editor-in-chief of Social Work magazine, she influenced the direction of multicultural studies and became a voice for new models for practice with diverse populations,” Mokuau said. .

Sharon Otagakiwho worked as Ewalt’s assistant, said Ewalt was known for everything UH campus for her reserved communication style. “She never argued. She listened to everyone as they spoke and then responded. She never got into a fight, and she became one of the most respected deans on campus,” Otagaki said.

Ewalt was innovative in her approach to teaching social work. As early as the 1990s, it launched distance learning programs for students on neighboring islands and hired instructors on each island to conduct fieldwork courses. She guided the school through the accreditation process and thoughtfully designed the curriculum to ensure the school would meet accreditation standards.

Under Heualt’s leadership, the Thompson School became considered a premier social work institution. She strove not only to manage the school well, but also to become an integral part of the university’s leadership. She knew the school would benefit from this relationship.

“She felt that connections to community and government programs were very important to the school,” Otagaki said. “Many of the opportunities we have for students today exist because of her leadership.”

Ewalt received her BA from Harvard University’s Radcliffe College in 1956. She then received her solid waste from Simmons College in 1968 and her Ph.D She became dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Kansas in 1982, and then accepted the position of dean of the School of Social Work at UH Manoa in 1987. She has published many articles and advised on Clinton’s 1993 health care plan.

Read more about Dean Yualt on the Thompson School website.


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