Remembrances of Dean Emeritus Larry Davis

Larry Davis

Media Coverage

Center on Race and Social Problems Page of Rememberance

Larry E. Davis, former Pitt Dean of the School of Social Work, dies at 74, New Pittsburgh Courier, April 7, 2021

Larry E. Davis | Renowned Pitt social work dean, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 4, 2021

Pitt Mourns The Loss Of Former Dean Of School Of Social Work Larry E. Davis, CBS Pittsburgh, April 2, 2021

The Loss of a Leader, Pittwire, March 31, 2021

Larry Davis, pioneering dean of Pitt School of Social Work, dies at 74, Tribune Review, March 31, 2021

KDKA Radio: Celebrating the life and legacy of the late Dr. Larry Davis, March 31, 2021

Social Work Dean Larry E. Davis' Contributions Leave the World a ‘Better, Fairer Place,' Pittwire, October 2017

In September 2020, Larry E. Davis gave one of his most recent lectures, titled "Will Race Always Matter?" Watch Davis' presentation, which was part of The American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series at the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy.

The summer 2018 issue of Bridges magazine, the School of Social Work publication that Larry E. Davis founded and edited, featured Davis in celebration of his retirement. Read the full issue

Read his biography on the School of Social Work website

Visitation and Funeral Arrangements

Visitation for those in Pittsburgh will be held from 2 pm to 4 pm and 6 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday, April 7 at the Freyvogel Funeral Home.

Funeral arrangements can be found here. The funeral will be livestreamed at 10 am EST on Thursday April 8 on the Freyvogel Funeral Home website (just click Dr. Davis's obituary for the link).

Remembrances from friends and colleagues

If you would like to share with us your remembrances of Dean Davis and how he inspired or impacted your life fill out this short form


This is truly heartbreaking and a significant loss not just to the field but to those who were inspired and encouraged by his work. As a graduate of Pitt’s School of Social Work, I was not there during his tenure, but watched from afar and his work was crucial during my own dissertation process. His legacy will surely carry on. Thank you for providing the opportunity to speak to how he has impacted my life. The Panther family is definitely mourning this loss.

-Ebony N. Perez, Ph.D, MSW, Assistant Professor/Department Chair Undergraduate Social Work, Saint Leo University


I was Dr. Davis' teaching assistant at Washington University and he served as an influential mentor for me as I moved through academia as a professor over the years. I will miss him greatly.

-Patricia Saleeby


Larry inspired me from the earliest stages of my career when I was a first year Assistant  Professor nearly nearly 25 years ago. I'll miss him dearly!

-Jorge Delva Dean, Boston University 


Larry Davis was friend, colleague, and mentor to so many within social work education and well beyond. I am fortunate and honored to count myself among that group. Larry leaves a rare legacy that will serve generations of social workers in the future. He cannot be replaced and will be missed.

-Debra M McPhee Colleague and friend - Fordham University, Graduate School of Social Work


As a colleague dean with Larry, I have the privilege of knowing him for years, even before he was dean. As much as his legacy will live on, I have to say that the social gatherings with him outside of formal meetings were the most meaningful. The back and forth banter and the sharing of meals helped to create a lasting friendship that I will value forever. I am sorry to see him leave us so young. He left us richer.

-Terry Singer, Pitt Alum


 Dean Davis called me on my mobile this fall (I had no idea that he had my number).  One day in the summer I had dropped off a book of poetry at his home.  The poet is a Black man from Brixton UK, really interesting  and a fabulous poet .  I thought LD would enjoy it.  He called me about 4 weeks later (after I had forgotten) and we had a 45 minute conversation about poetry, art and writing.  In my ten years it felt like the first time I saw the man behind "the Dean".   I liked this man a lot, talking about the poems and his dreams for the future and I'm sorry that we will not have time to spend in the future discussing poetry, and race and life.

-Mary Elizabeth Rauktis, Faculty, Pitt School of Social Work


I will always be grateful to Dean Davis for his support of me during the early years of my tenure in our child welfare programs.  It was Dean Davis who nominated me for the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, which I received as the first faculty bestowed with this honor from the School of Social Work.  Dean Davis supported me in moving into the role of Principal Investigator for our Child Welfare Education and Research Programs.  I learned a great deal from him over the years and am thankful for his contributions to the field.  

-Helen Cahalane Faculty; alumni of MSW and PhD programs


Dr. Davis was one of my favorite professors at GWB when I was a MSW student. He cared deeply for his students and taught us to how to use our work and scholarship to improve the lives of historically marginalized communities. I loved his classes and his deep commitment to social justice. His leadership, dedication, and work is an inspiration for our social work profession. "Que en paz descance"

-Leopoldo J. Cabassa, Ph.D., MSW, The Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis. Faculty and alumni


Dr. Davis was the chair of my dissertation committee when I was a PHD student at Washington University in St. Louis and I worked as a graduate student with him on several projects. He was a good mentor and chair. He was also my biggest cheerleader and he always sought me out at CSWE or other meetings to tell me how proud he was of my accomplishments. Two additional fond memories stand out: during my first presentation at CSWE I had a 'heckler' who frazzled me during the presentation (I think Dr. Davis thought he was trying to get his attention at my expense). After the session the heckler came up to talk to us and Dr. Davis supported me during that conversation in a kind, but firm way to the heckler. Another is during my time as a doctoral student, right after I had my first child. I was almost in tears because I was having a hard time concentrating on getting my proposal completed and was feeling as if my brain was 'gone'. He told me calmly to enjoy my baby, that my brain would come back, and that he had every confidence that I could complete my work. I wish his family and colleagues all the love during this time. 

-Julie Miller-Cribbs, Former Student, current faculty at OU


Larry's legacy is wide and deep. He was a leader among the Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work ( NADD) and also with other national bodies. His vision for social work to take the lead in anti-racist practice has served as a guiding force and his Center and many conferences helped to pave the way for this collective agenda.
I have fond memories of my several trips to the School to address child welfare and also aging issues as Larry looked to create an intergenerational focus.
He  is deeply missed and his legacy and impacts are cherished as we hold him and his family in our hearts.

-Katharine Briar-Lawson, Colleague at University at Albany


Larry was a mentor to me. He coached me generously and encouraged me to keep standards high for my faculty. He respected my commitment to science even when my views ran counter to the field. So glad we added Eliminate Racism to Grand Challenges as he long ago suggested. We talked about doing a kids book based on Why Are They Mad at Us. I so wished we had but I kept waiting for him to get less busy. Hah! I should have known better. Still, its a shock to have him gone.. way too soon.

-Rick Barth, U Maryland School of Social Work


As he often said of others, Larry Davis was a 'gentleman and a scholar.'  He was my dissertation chair, mentor, and friend.  He will be greatly missed.

-Trina Shanks, Friend


I completed my BASW and MSW at the University of Pittsburgh. David Epperson was the Dean then. But I know that Dean Larry Davis was well respected.

My sincere condolences to his family and the University of Pittsburgh Social Work community. 

-Cheryl Day, Faculty 


There are no words that I can conceive to express how important Dr. Davis was to my adult life. As a student, he allowed me to work in his shadow as a research fellow for the race center. For three years, he took me under his wing and mentored me through my graduate experience. During that time, he talked with me, he advised me, he ate lunch with me, he told me stories about his incredible life, he scolded me when necessary, and he made me believe that I was capable of far more than what I though was possible in my life. He trusted me to write reports for the first Race in America conference. He allowed me as a student to attend faculty events in his home. He was the first person to offer me a job when I graduated from the program and had my first child on the way. He kissed my daughter on the forehead when I first introduced him to her as a newborn. He told my wife that she was lucky to have me as her husband.

For the life of me, I have no idea how me, a kid from my background, got the chance to be mentored by someone as accomplished as Dr. Davis. I don't know if I was worthy of it then, or if I will ever be. But, I am so thankful that God softened his heart towards me. He was the father figure I needed to get me through that experience. I am forever indebted to Dr. Davis for his kindness. I greatly appreciate him. I am thankful that he cared about me. I only hope that in my communication with him in the years following my departure from Pittsburgh that I was able to successfully convey my great gratitude for his impact on my life. I am deeply saddened that he is gone. Our community has lost a great mind, a great innovator, and an even greater man. Rest in peace Dr. Davis. I will never forget you. Thank you, and much love.

-Nigel A. Smith, Alumni


I first met Larry about 30 years ago when I was teaching a section of the Institutional Racism course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill . The course was coordinated by the group worker, the late Maeda Galinsky. Larry was invited from George Warren Brown School of Social Work to do his "bag of questions" routine for the students. We remained friends through the years with many conversations that led to his racism center at the University of Pittsburgh. He visited Boston University to lecture for us and to meet with Glen Loury to discuss Loury's center at Boston University. His commitment to improving knowledge about race and racism in our society was inspirational to all of us.

-Dr. Wilma Peebles-Wilkins, Professor and Dean Emerita, Boston University 


I was an MSW student at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis when Dr. Davis was on faculty. I was in his "Social Problems of Youth" course and remember his enthusiasm for training us to be the knowledgeable and skilled professionals our teen clients deserved.

I have come full circle since that class - after a decade of working with teens (putting into practice the skills that Dr. Davis taught me), I am now on faculty at the Brown School and have been teaching that same class (now called Social Work Practice with Youth) since 2004. I channel Dr. Davis on the first day of every semester when I introduce myself and share my enthusiasm for training the next generation of social work change makers.

This is just one example of how Dr. Davis's impact has and will continue to ripple throughout the social work profession.

-Lorien Carter, Washington University in St Louis, MSW faculty 


Larry came to Rutgers as a guest lecturer.  I also came to know him when I led a CSWE site visit team for Pitt's reaffirmation of accreditation.  I was amazed and impressed by his Center for Race and Social Problems, as well as his scholarly and personal commitment to the wellbeing of Black men. Brilliant, effective, and truly a class act (and sharp dresser), he made a great contribution to social work education and will be missed.

-Michael LaSala Rutgers University, Faculty


I joined the School of Social Work upon Dean Davis' retirement, so I didn't have the chance to know or work with him in ways that many others have. I really enjoyed conversations we had when I first arrived at Pitt around his final book -- that book clearly showed the masterful way that he intertwined his personal experiences, our nation's history and context, and the lens of a scholar. I've been struck in the past week by how those who knew him well have talked about the "Larry-isms" -- phrases or guidance -- that continue to influence their work and lives. Between these interpersonal influences and the formal infrastructure provided by CRSP, it's now our collective responsibility to carry on!

-Betsy Farmer, Dean, Pitt School of Social Work


Dr. Davis taught me the Social, Political, and Economic Environment course when I was an MSW student at the Brown School at Washington University. He was a formative influence for me in understanding how the socio-economic environment impacts individual human development and on understanding the impact of racism. We had kept in touch over the years and presented once together at CSWE APM. I will always appreciate his influence on the field of social work and on my career development. He will be deeply missed. 

-Susan Neely-Barnes


I didn't have many chances to meet him personally, but he was one of the people that made you feel that you are being respected and listened to. As an international student coming from a culture where 'authority figures' are considered to be hard to approach, it was a stunning experience.

When everything was new and unfamiliar when I first came to Pitt and the school, he made me feel welcomed and that I belong here.
It was not only me, but I remember sharing thoughts with other international students about how cool and wonderful person Dean Davis was. For many  of us, along with other international students across the US, he was a role model.

I am echoing the respect that the international alumni are paying (after hearing the news), just in case they don't get a chance to share their thoughts and memories here.

-Daniel HJ Lee, Alumni/ Post-doc


Social work students at Pitt admired his devotion to the Department and field of social work. We all will remember Dean Davis even though he is no longer with us.
Always in my heart...

-Yoon Mi Kim, alum


Dean Davis was a wonderful role model and someone to aspire to be.  He was kind, patient, and generous of self. I always felt fortunate when I had the opportunity to listen to him speak.  Sending his loved ones light and love. 

-Stacey Kolomer, fellow member of NADD


It was always such a pleasure to see Dr. Davis at CSWE and NADD conferences. He was an inspiration and offered such important information on issues that social workers and all of society deal with on a daily basis. He will truly be missed.

-Elizabeth Talbot Chair, Department of Social Work at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio


I am so sad to hear of Dr. Davis' passing.  He was on faculty at Washington University when I first arrived in St. Louis as a PhD. Student in 1995.  I never had Larry for a class, nor did he serve on my doctoral commitee.  However, he always stopped to talk with me in the library and in the halls of Brown Hall..always.  He was very welcoming and warm to me as a young scholar who had moved alone from Salt Lake City, Utah to a new and very different city.   My humorous memory of him was that he was always fascinated that I lived in Utah and was frequently curious about polygamy (which I knew nothing about!). Later, Dean Davis always took the time, year after year, to warmly greet me at professional conferences when he saw me.  He had an impact on me personally with his warmth and encouragement and has had such a meaningful impact on the field of social work.  I truly admired and was very fond of him.  He will be missed. 
With sincere condolences,  

-Cynthia Sanders, Boise State University School of Social Work (Professor)


Dean Larry Davis was my Dean, co-worker on the journal Race and Social Problems and friend. My years working with Larry compose a hugely significant part of my professional life. From the time I first met him I knew I had his support and that he would receive mine. I saw him transform our School into a first rate school with a high national ranking. It was wonderful to be a faculty member in a school of which he was the Dean and leader.
I was complimented that he requested and seemed to value my impression of his last book, “Why are They Angry with Us”. This is a great book both as a personal life story account as a contribution as a textbook in social psychology. I have made it required reading for my grandchildren as they move toward adulthood. And, if I were still teaching social psychology I would assign it as a supplementary textbook. My copy with Larry’s inscription is the most valued book in my library
In these last months Larry and I became friends. We both regretted we hadn’t gotten to know each other better in our earlier years together.
We only disagreed on one thing, which of us was the better writer. Larry thought it was me. He was wrong about that. It wasn’t even close.
I will terribly miss working with Larry. He was a great friend, terrific Dean and wonderful scholar.

-Gary Koeske Professor Emeritus


Dean Davis had a a significant impact on many students prior to his time at the University of Pittsburgh.  I had the priviledge of learning from him at the Brown School at Washington University during my MSW / PhD programs in the 80's and early 90's.  For decades, he helped many social workers to gain awareness of issues related to race, gender, and class (the book he co-authored with Enola Proctor was widely used in our coursework at GWB) and will be remembered as a caring and dedicated social work educator.

-Carla Sofka, Alum of Washington University in St. Louis


Kindness, humor, and generosity of spirit, ideas, and time. These are the qualities that come immediately to mind as I sadly contemplate the loss of Larry Davis. He came to Pitt after I graduated, but he seemed to make it a point to know his flock, even those of us who’d left the nest. So approachable, he graciously consented whenever invited to speak, whether at a conference or to one of my classes. I saw him last in the fall of 2019 as we joined in a walk/talk around the Highland Park Reservoir. The outcome of that meeting was Larry’s kind offer to reach out to a former student of mine who was struggling to decide his next steps after graduating. I will never forget that someone of Dean Davis' stature would be so generous. I know that everyone who knew him feels the same. 

-Jim Kelly, PhD, MSW, Alumnus


I worked and played with Larry at NIDD for six years both at Bridgewater State University and Northridge. He was a wonderful and open person and when he hosted his University's CSWE party; I was so impressed with so many faculty from different university's who sought him out, both for resources and personnel conversations. When I stepped down as chair we remained friends and collogues. I will miss him and our wonderful conversations related to cultural humility.

-James T Decker Faculty and Chair California State University, Northridge


Dean Larry Davis was a giant in social work education. I have been aware of the power of his intellect and scholarship all of my professional life. I was proud when he became the Dean at the University of Pittsburgh after many years as a professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.  As a Pitt alumnus, I was so proud when he spoke at national meetings and the Case Western Reserve University's  Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences' 2018  commencement ceremony. I am a member of the faculty at this institution. Also, our School presented him with the Herman D. Stein Distinguished Social Work Education award given to those with significant contributions to social work education. Dean Davis' life inspires us to push forward in the unfulfilled promise for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the USA and worldwide. All will miss Larry Davis's voice, but we have his scholarship to read and use with the next generation of scholars, researchers, and practitioners. Through his friends, family, and his scholarship, he will live forever in our lives.

-Sharon E. Milligan, Ph.D. (1982), MSW, MPH (1981), MS, alumna


Larry was a true champion for racial justice, and his legacy will live on with the Center on Race and Social Problems he established at Pitt and our School.  However, I remember Larry in some other context.
-- He was so proud of his V.I.S.T.A. in the early cohort where he served in New York City and Harlem and how that experience helped to shape his career - as a VISTA alum, I attest to how transformative that early community, social service work was.
-- He was so excited to share his experience in meeting an idol, Muhammed Ali, and getting to show Ali his young son who was partly named for him, also getting to share a few jabs with the champ.
-- He was an avid, almost rabid, Godfather fan, and among his prized possession was a sign and marked copy of "The Godfather" script.  I know it was a influence on him, and we often shared Godfather quotes.  We had talked about having a Godfather binge watch one day before Covid reared up.
-- He believed in service and modeling that with his sons.  He often asked me to alert him to good volunteer opportunities where he could be of service with his sons.  It reminded him of his VISTA roots and he wanted to set a good example for his sons on why volunteer service was important...and he was not afraid to get it hands dirty in the work.
-- Like me he was a horror movie buff, and I would often bring up arcane movies, like "Day of the Triffids," and we would laugh over scenes we recalled from our youth in those old movie houses.
I remember Larry leadership as Dean and his work on Race and the understanding he tried to bring to our region and country on race, but these other memories of Larry are the ones that stick with me.

-Tracy M. Soska, faculty


He was so kind when I joined NADD, and always extended his wisdom snd grace to me. He will be very missed.

-Amanda Duffy Randall, University of Nebraska Omaha, Director


Dean Davis was mesmerizing. His intellect, his style, his dedication to educate us on the issues of racism and it's negative impact on the structures and peoples of America will benefit us and those that we can share his legacy with for years to come.

Dr. Davis' CSWE presentations were the first agenda items I would look for when attending the APM. I was never disappointed.  Social work education has such a void now!

Rest in Power!

-Dr. Pamela Higgins Saulsberry, LCSW-BACS University of Louisiana Monroe, Professor of Social Work & Ex. Director for the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


A Tribute to Dean Larry E. Davis, PhD

Dean Larry E. Davis was a man of great intellect, integrity, and intuition.  He was powerful, yet humble. Serious, yet humorous. Intense, yet at ease.  As we walked together in Washington, DC for a white house briefing on poverty and race, I told him I was looking forward to his presentation. He smiled and asked me what he should say. "I don't know what to say," he said with a smile.  I took the bait and offered some pointers, adding that he would be fine.  When it was his turn to speak, he removed from his jacket pocket several crisply folded pages of his previously prepared notes and addressed the audience with great insight and brilliance.  He did this in his characteristically calm cadence. After his presentation, I told him what a great job he had done and that I was sure my suggestions made the difference.  We both had a turn to laugh.

Nearly five years ago after the publication of his last book, Dean Davis spoke about race and inequality at the Fall 2016 Keynote Lecture Series at Rutgers University. Not surprisingly, the title of his talk was taken from his new book, "Why Are They Angry with Us?"  We were all so happy to have him join us for two days across three campuses.  Of course, he did a remarkable job with both his talk and discussion.  In his book, he provides a man's answer to a boy's question. As I think about it, that was a very inquisitive and insightful question from Larry Davis at age seven.  I had the privilege of picking Dr. Davis up at his hotel and hosting him for his first lecture. He would later text me and say, "You might ought to be in the hospitality business.  You really took good care of me. Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta." Funny thing is that I did work in the hospitality industry during my years as an undergraduate. 

Ironically, four years to the day that Dr. Davis was with us at Rutgers, he lectured at the American Experience Distinguished Lecture Series at the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law & Public Policy in September 2020.  Always relevant and timely, after a long summer of protests and demands for racial justice, he raised the question that was (and still is) on everyone's mind, "Will Race Always Matter?" We were in touch that evening, after I reached out to thank him for his lecture and tell him what a great job he had done. He humbly thanked me and said. "Let's stay in touch." Around that same time, I recommended that he be invited to be the opening keynote speaker for the Annual NASW-NJ Conference that took place earlier this month.  True to his life's work, he was to speak on "Racism in America: A Call to Action for Social Work."  I was asked to moderate his session, and so we spoke several weeks ago in preparation for his plenary presentation.  It was a good conversation, one that I will cherish forever.  After catching up, he told me what he planned to talk about, and that I should feel free to ask him anything I wanted to ask during the Q & A. Unfortunately, the evening before he was to speak, I was informed that Dean Davis was unwell and unable to join us. I reached out to him to let him know that he was in my thoughts and prayers, adding that I hoped we would talk when he felt up to it.

While writing this tribute, my Rutgers colleague sent me a photo of Dean Davis, Associate Dean Antoinette Farmer, who has known Dean Davis for more than 30 years, and myself.  I am holding now in my hands the autographed copy of his last book where he wrote, "You have been good to me!  Thank you for your friendship and kindness!" Added to these words are the words he wrote to me in a separate text, "You are a good man." About Dean Larry Davis, I would simply say, he was a good and kind friend to so many people. "Larry, you were a good man!"  Rest in Peace.

-DuWayne Battle, PhD, Rutgers University School of Social Work


I remember having Dr. Davis for class when I was an MSW student (1993) at Wash U. As a young graduate student, I thought it was so cool that I had a professor that I watched giving an interview on Oprah at the beginning of the week and then having class later that week. I still have his Race, Gender, & Class book on my office bookshelf. 

-Phil Miller, Washington University in St. Louis, MSW Alumni


Larry was a great inspiration to me in terms of his achievements and cool demeanor. As a BARS member, he will be missed a lot since the organization had just started; without him, there would be no BARS.
REST IN PEACE DEAR BROTHER!

-David Okech UGA


 I am very sorry to hear of the loss of Dean Emeritus Larry Davis. Larry Davis was one of my professors at Washington University in St. Louis, and he graciously served as a member of my PhD dissertation committee. I learned a great deal from him about the situation of African-Americans. This has affected my work throughout my career; with his insights I have conducted research on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath for the people of New Orleans, and particularly its African-American residents. I recently (2018) served as first editor for the book "Creating Katrina, Rebuilding Resilience. Lessons Learned from New Orleans on Vulnerability and Resiliency." I also wrote several chapters of this book, and much of it focuses on the impact of this disaster on African-Americans. I miss Dr. Davis very much. 

-Michael J. Zakour Professor, West Virginia University, School of Social Work, PhD Alumni, Washington University


It is with great sadness that I share some of my thoughts and memories about Dean Larry Davis. Death brings reflection as it is part of the Life course. The death of Dean Davis has come. However, it is not the end. Although he has transitioned from this world his legacy lives on at U. Pitt Social Work and across so many other places and among the many people he touched. He did not travel this earth alone. He touched many and no other complement can say as much as he was loved, he loved and he made a difference. This was not just in Pittsburgh, and across Pennsylvania but across the country. As a social worker and as an African American man, he accomplished a great deal. I am grateful to have met and interacted with him, even briefly. But, from what I knew of him and his many accomplishments he cared greatly about people. He cared about oppressed folks, about people in Pittsburgh, and about examples of people's lives that demanded attention across the nation. He reminded us Race is not something you pull out when you think it is warranted. It is a life changing part of the U.S. and part of each of us. He reminded many of what that means and what we are called to do about improving our relationships, recognizing and addressing privilege or lack of it and calling it what it is, from disparities to intergenerational wealth, to the need for more education and jobs for minorities, to closer examining of trauma in people's lives, from substance use to understanding the impact of aggression over generations.

He left us some big shoes to fill, but he has shown us a way forward.
 
Here is one small example of what I saw in some of my interactions with him.
I first met Dr. Davis at a CSWE Annual Program Meeting and listened to him serve as a moderator for a conference session. His comments were probing. He showed me he had depth and from the nodding heads and folks leaning in it was clear he commanded great respect among many of the session attendees.
I took the opportunity to speak with him briefly after the session. He was holding court, laughing, sharing a wise crack and comment and a quick pivot to offer some in depth comment about the discussion, integrating recent research and his idea of what should be discussed and where some future research needs to go. That was so him.
Always a dapper dresser, over the few years I got to know him, he was always looking good. I complemented him often as an opening comment to some brief dialogue. He knew seemingly everyone. I guess that is part of what happens as a Black man of major substance. He offered a nod here, a wave and smile there. Among some he showed fiery barbs demanding respect, and offered some colorful words for others. Once as we were walking to a meeting from the hotel to a building on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. He remembered my face and welcomed me saying he listened to my comments from the preceding day and suggested I should step up and offer more to the BARS organization. I didn't think he cared or noticed what I had to say. He clearly had listened and offered a few comments about what he thought needed to happen. I listened carefully. There he was again always sowing seeds and helping to nurture them. That was part of who he was. I suspect family and close friends will offer much more. I can say I wish I spent more time with him. He will be missed.
In his next experience I suspect he will be looking at us and asking what in the H are they doing?

Carry on my brother.

-Robert L. Cosby Colleague and admirer, Howard University School of Social Work, Assistant Dean for Administration, Director of Multidisciplinary Gerontology Center, Associate Professor 


I am heart broken to learn of Larry's passing. I counted him as a friend-to learn from, to admire and simply to enjoy. I know how grateful he was to the University of Pittsburgh healthcare center. I know his personal courage and his kindness and big-heartedness. I send my sympathy to his family and countless friends.

-Kay Hoffman University of Kentucky. Retired Dean and Professor Emerita


Dr. and Dean Larry Davis indeed left a "footprint" in the lives of those who were fortunate to know and/or work with him. I came to know him as a PostDoc, who he was more than willing to "school" in personal and academic ways and also collaborate with. I am even more fortunate to be inextricably linked to him in a co-authored article. My regret now that he has passed is that my contact with him over the past decades was "not enough". But, his "˜footprint remains"! May the "God of all comfort" be with his family and loved ones!

-Lionel Scott Jr. Georgia State University School of Social Work


Larry was always an inspiration to me. He had a long and productive career as a scholar and leader in our profession. I remember reading his and Enola's book on Gender and Class when it came out in 1989-90. It influenced my own work on gender-based violence and working with diverse populations of male batterers. I always enjoyed seeing Larry at deans' meetings over the years and remember well his invited keynote speech at our commencement ceremonies early in my deanship at Berkeley. That was perhaps the time I got to know him the best and remember the time we spent together fondly.

Best wishes to Larry's extended family. He has left a significant legacy in his work.

Jeff Edleson
Professor and Harry & Riva Specht Chair in Publicly Supported Social Services
Former Dean (2012-19)
Berkeley Social Welfare


Larry and I came to our deanships in the summer of 2001.  Each year thereafter we celebrated our anniversaries as we sat side-by-side (Davis & Dunbar) at freshman convocation. honors convocation, and graduation.  Larry was a very warm and collaborative person.  He started an ongoing conversation, what can we do together, that eventually became, what more can we do together.  His perspective was always insightful, helpful, and welcomed.  I knew from his words that he was incredibly proud of his sons and deeply in love with his wife.  We would all have benefited from him having a longer stay here with us.

-Jackie Dunbar-Jacob external member of the promotion and tenure committee


I first met Larry in 1978 at the George Warren Brown School of Social, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. I was a first-year doctoral student, and he was in his second year on the faculty. Over the next four years Larry served as a trusted mentor and friend, and he was a member of my dissertation defense committee. As an African American male doctoral student I couldn't have dreamed of having a better role model and friend.

As my career progressed, I could always call on Larry for advice and support, and he always responded with grace, charm, and wisdom. More than anything else, Larry was a friend, and he had a tremendous impact on my career and life, and I will cherish his friendship and memory for eternity.

I am deeply sadden by Larry's passing and my wife, Elaine, and I extend our deepest condolences to his family

-Anthony E. O. King, Ph.D., Adjunct Instructor, Michigan State University School of Social Work and Wayne State University School of Social Work


 I was a MSW student when Dr. Davis was at Washinton University.  I never had him as a professor and thought that he didn't even know who I was.  After graduation, I had plans to live and work in another state but the plans didn't work out.  I saw Dr. Davis probably 6 months after I graduated and he said, "I thought that you were going to move out of state."  I was so impressed that he was involved enough to know anything about me.  That concern for students has stayed with me and I now use some of his writing with my social work students at Bradley University.

-Nancy A. Amos, ACSW, LCSW, Ph.D.


I meet Dr Davis decades ago. I remember when a group of us celebrated when he was selected as the Dean at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work
Larry was always willing to share his wise counsel and he took pride in helping you to navigate all the “protocols” that existed in social work education.

I remember when the late Alberto Godenzi, Larry’s friend and colleague setup a meeting with Larry.  Alberto felt that I needed to secure Larry’s blessing to run for the Presidency of CSWE. After an intense audition Larry gave me his blessing and thankfully I won the election. Years later I learned that Larry talked to numerous deans on why they should consider me for the position.  The lesson I  learned is that Larry would work hard on your behalf, that is if he believed in you.

Larry and I have had numerous conversations over the years as we traveled around the globe to attend various social work meetings. During those times we shared laughter, strategized positions,  and supported each other in our pursuit for racial justice of all people. 

I will truly miss Dr. Larry E. Davis, he was a friend and colleague, he was passionate about race equity, and he was never unapologetic for stating the truth.
 
Larry maybe gone but his legacy will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace Larry, you truly earned your heavenly wings. Say hello to Alberto for me! 
Fondly,

-Mit Joyner, President of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW)  


I was fortunate and blessed to be one of the international students Dr. Davis hosted for Thanksgiving with his family in November 2016. Dr. Davis was always willing to lend a helping hand whenever I needed it. Dr. Davis will fondly be remembered and deeply missed. My condolences to his wife, Ms. Kim, his 3 sons, Amani, Naeem & Keanu, and his entire family.

-Nana Owusu, MSW '18 Alumni


Dr. Davis and I spent a lot of time together strategizing and raising money for Pitt Social Work.  We could only put three items on an agenda because we'd get to talking and go off onto tangents on all sorts of topics--some of it fundraising related but most of it about other things in life.

Any one who knew him knows he took his fashion seriously.  He would always notice and compliment me on a new shirt or nice shoes.  I always joked with him that he gave me more compliments on my wardrobe than my wife did!

One time right before his retirement he was sitting down for a feature interview and photo op with Pittsburgh Magazine. I happened to be meeting with him beforehand and he stopped in the middle of our conversation and said "hey, I really like that tie. Can I borrow it?"  And I said, "seriously?  Now?" Dr. Davis: "yes, I've got this feature and I want to look my best.  That tie is great."  So I took off my tie and gave it to him and he tied it up and did his interview and pictures.  Later, when the magazine article came out, he showed it to me and said "what do you think?" and I scanned the article, pretending to really be reading it, and looked up and told him "it's a nice tie."  He laughed and said "it sure is. Now let's go grab lunch."

He was always supportive of me--whether it was my fashion choices or my professional progress--and I will always be grateful for that support.  He trusted me and championed me.  It meant a lot that he was always in my corner.

-Tony Gacek, former staff member


As Dean of the school and mentor of junior faculty, Larry was always ready to offer encouragement, support and help. The best advice he gave me was to “think big and think long-term,” which has guided through my academic career and personal life.  He was sincere and kind, passing along his greetings and well-wishes to my family whenever we chatted.  My family and I are truly grateful for his warmth and hospitality, making an easy transition and adaptation to our life in Pittsburgh. It was a pleasure and honor working with him since my arrival in 2005. Memories of him will never leave us. 

-Fengyan Tang, faculty 


Dr. Larry E. Davis was an incredibly committed mentor and leader. He never hesitated to appropriate a junior faculty member at the SSWR conference or CSWE APM and say, "You look new to the conference. Have you heard of BARS?" These words will forever remain in my heart and in my spirit, as continue on this professional journal as a Black social work administrator, researcher and scholar (BARS). Dean Larry Davis knew the importance of addressing the underrepresentation of Black and Brown deans and directors, as well as, the significance in preparing social work practitioners to do the critical work of dismantling problems of race and the social determinants of health on the macro, mezzo and micro levels. He worked tirelessly to be a change agent in these regards. He will always be highly respected and honored for his monumental accomplishments and the influence he had, and continues to have, on the social work profession, its students, educators, practitioners and communities of administrators, researchers and scholars. Karen Bullock, PhD, LCSW

-Karen Bullock, NC State School of Social Work/ NADD Colleague


Dean Davis was a pillar of the SSW during my time at Pitt. He challenged students to consider race and white supremacy in each level of practice. He also was an exemplary leader in higher education who will be dearly missed.

-Jennifer Hollenberger, MSW Alumni


I am grateful to Dean Davis for giving me the opportunity to be the MSW Program Director from 2006-2017.  As a non-traditional candidate with an MSW, his confidence in my ability as a faculty member and administrator demonstrated his willingness to embrace new avenues within academia.  Under Dean Davis' leadership, we were able to strengthen the MSW Program, rise in the national rankings and attract students from around the world.
As a white person, I carry with me the knowledge and experience gained from attending the lectures at the Center for Race and Social Problems and personal interactions with the Dean.
I recall with fondness, our numerous conversations while driving to Bradford and Johnstown for graduation ceremonies, and oh, there was also the trepidation of the snow and ice in mid-December! 
I am forever grateful for the lessons I learned about race and leadership while at the School of Social Work under Dean Larry Davis.

-Lynn Coghill, LCSW MSW Program Director, retired


Dean Davis always had a high profile in the National Association of Deans and Directors (NADD). Despite his prestige, he made a point to be generous with his knowledge to all NADD members. Particularly as a new Director, this was so appreciated.   

-Laurie Smith, Past Director, CSUSB School of Social Work


Dear friends:

I am so sad, even pained, at hearing that Larry had died. He was a long time professional colleague who became a friend as we worked together on several projects since the 1990's. I experienced his brilliance, his determination to make a difference, his confidence, and his unique leadership qualities; indeed I saw Larry as a star of our profession a proud social work educator and scholar who believed social work could make a difference in the wider word (and acted upon that beliefs) whether it was his advice in a popular book to adults: "Black and Single" (which he demonstrated was based on science), to his several popular HB texts, to our work together as co-editors-in-chief of the 20th edition of the Encyclopedia of Social Work in 2008. And underneath everything he did professionally and not doubt what drove him (at least in part) was his passion for social justice and addressing racism. As friends, I loved his wry sense of humor and how proud he was of his three sons. They were always a part of our conversations. I will miss him, the profession will miss him, and the all the people whose lives he impacted will miss him , but his legacy will live on and inspire us.

Please convey our condolences to his personal and professional family.

-Terry Mizrahi, Professor Emeritus--Silberman/Hunter SSW


Dean Davis taught me so much about race in America...from his wok, from his personal stories and his sense of humor...he always had something interesting and insightful to say. I talked about his work and advice to all of my family and friends. When "Why Are They Angry With Us?" was published I was so happy to share it with them because they could now read about the life of the person they had been hearing about all these years! 

I will always be grateful for the opportunities he gave me, the confidence he gave me, and the support he gave me. 

-Shannon Murphy, staff member


A Tribute to Dean Larry E. Davis, PhD What can you say about a man who has touched the lives of so many social work scholars, students, and other individuals? The impact Dean Larry E. Davis has had on these individuals cannot be expressed by one person, but I want those who read this tribute to understand how much he meant to me. I have known Dean Davis since I obtained my PhD in 1991. When I was on the job market, I interviewed at George Warren Brown, which was the name of the school before it became the Brown School, Dr. Davis was my host. He told me not to be nervous when I gave my job talk, and that he knew my presentation was going to be great. Dean Davis gave me encouragement when I needed it the most, and he continued to do so. Therefore, I want it to be known that he played a role of an encourager in my life. We all need someone to play this role in our lives, because being in academia is not easy. I cannot recall much about the presentation I did that day, but I do recall the words of the dean of the school. Dean Shanti Khinduka told me how much Dr. Davis supported him and how he expected Dr. Davis to become a dean of a school of social work one day. Of course, he told me that he loved the way Dr. Davis dressed. I, too, loved the way Dean Davis dressed. I recall one time I complimented him on a suit he was wearing. He said, “thank-you, but do you know I wear suspenders?” I said, “I did not know that, but Dean Davis you are a classic man”. Although I did not get the job at George Warren Brown, Dean Davis stayed in touched with me for these 30 years. During these 30 years he has provided me with a lot of encouragement. Not only was Dean Davis helpful to me, but he was helpful to my husband Dr. G. Lawrence Farmer as well. When my husband did not get tenure at Rutgers, my husband called Dean Davis for advice. He told him that his good friend Dr. Peter Vaughan was the Dean at Fordham and he should call him and tell him what happened. My husband followed Dean Davis’ advice, and this is how he ended up at Fordham. My husband got tenured at Fordham and has been the director of the PhD program for the last four years. It is my hope that the University of Pittsburgh will rename the Center for Race and Social Problems after Dean Larry E. Davis. This Center meant a lot to Dean Davis, and it serves as a beacon of light to those who are interested in addressing racism. By renaming the Center for Race and Social Problems after Dean Larry E. Davis, would be a remarkable way of honoring a man who provided a great service to the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work, and the social work profession.

Respectfully Submitted,

-Antoinette Y. Farmer, PhD Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey School of Social Work


My memories of my dear friend are too numerous to note here... In short, with over a quarter of a century of deep conversations and light bantering, and much laughter shared while I was a dean at Case Western Reserve through here at Bryn Mawr, I have always admired and truly loved Larry- his mind, his heart, his passionate commitment to equity and justice... Larry lived fully and right out-loud, and we are all so Blessed that he did! Larry cared about many and especially looked out for Black people... I know that I wasn’t alone in reaching- out to Larry for his thoughts about ‘issues’ as they arose in my life as a Black Woman Dean... My deepest condolences and gratitude to Larry’s Family for sharing him with us to allow for ALL of the memories made that will last Forever.

-Darlyne Bailey Professor and Dean Emeritus Bryn Mawr College, Pa


Larry and I developed a strong friendship while on the faculty at Washington University that continued throughout our careers. He challenged us to address the important issues of race and racial justice. His legacy will have a lasting impact on our profession. I miss him very much.

-James Herbert Williams, Arizona State University


Dean Davis was a great mentor, who always pushed me to do more, learn more, be more. His vision as a social worker provided me with a central understanding of our work, to address injustice wherever and whenever it presents itself. To be able to learn about issues of race from a renowned expert, and to center it in our work is a gift I and many others were able to receive from him. I will greatly miss our conversations, and his quotes which always provided the perfect punctuation to his points. In all of our efforts to live out his legacy, I am reminded that "This is no time to think small."

-Keith Caldwell, School of Social Work Faculty Member and MSW Program Alum


I can't think of anyone in our profession that I have had more respect for than Larry.  He understood so much and so deeply.  He had the courage to take on the most difficult topics publicly and he did so in a gentle, clear, firm way that engaged people rather than distanced them.  He had the ability to advance and implement  programmatic ideas, his research and writing was prolific and always important, he mentored generations of students and even his colleagues (certainly me). Every conversation I had with him was an educational experience that gave me a new way to think through something.    And he was funny, interesting, interested in the people and things around him, and always dapper.  At conferences, everyone wanted to hang out with him.

I remember he told me that he wanted to do a national project in which communities or schools built a slave ship as an opportunity to educate people, especially children,  about slavery.  The idea really moved me both as a community organizer and a teacher.  His ability to distill the richness of his thinking into a simple interactional experience to influence attitudes was brilliant.  I hope we can find a way to pursue this project as a way to honor Larry's legacy.

I feel his loss very personally.  

-Jacqueline Mondros, Dean and Assistant Vice President Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare


Dean Larry Davis was a transformational voice in our profession.  He was exactly what was needed as an advocate, a colleague, and a friend. He spoke with courage and clarity and had a gift of cutting through the extraneous to make his point. His belief in what could happen was contagious. He was very thoughtful and considerate of others, and seemed to remember even small points the next time we met. He was also very genuine. Dean Davis spent a day with us at Ohio State in 2017 and presented to a group of over 200 member of our community.  Many of us remember that as a transformational and inspiring day.  I am so sorry he has left us. His voice will continue to influence our profession and our society. 

-Tom Gregoire, The Ohio State University College of Social Work


Dr. Larry Davis was a delightful gentleman - compassionate, noble, and astute intellectual. No condolence message can express how much he meant to me from the first day I met him to several months ago at our home sharing a joyful dinner and the evening filled with laughter and kind words. I am truly grief-stricken with his passing. He was the pillar of our community and he will be missed by many.

-Hide Yamatani, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh


Dean Davis was a champion for social justice and often shared his vision with many of us. His honesty and mentoring helped shaped my views of a career in social work education and practice. He will be missed and I so much appreciated his guidance and leadership.

-Freddie Avant, Director and Associate Dean


I graduated with a MSW in the Class of 1974.  From the time I first met Larry he treated me as a colleague.  He was a fount of encouragement and support.  His contributions to the School of Social Work and to the University of Pittsburgh make me proud to be an alumnus.

-Stephen P. Paschall Alumnus and Board of Visitors


Larry went out of his way to reach out to me to offer guidance and support when I first stepped into my role as Dean at Smith. He was always so warm and personable, wise and generous, a wonderful model for us all.

-Marianne Yoshioka Dean, Smith College School for Social Work


Dr. (Dean) Larry Davis was an important early mentor to me -- dating back to my MSW program when I served as his TA and RA.  He was my dissertation member. His dedication to students -- especially to first-generation and students of color was evident in everything he did. I fondly remember him rushing into my dissertation defense, impeccably dressed and rigorous questions for me ready to go  --- yet he was completely sleep deprived (!) - Little did I know his first son was born only the night before. The fact that he "showed up" for a huge milestone in my life during a huge one his own spoke volumes.  He has "shown up" as a mentor and friend for me in many ways ever since.  He will be truly missed

- Renee Cunningham-Williams,  Washington University in St. Louis


I was an assistant professor at the Brown School for some of the years Larry was there.  He was a supportive and valued mentor.  I recall that when he made full professor, he told me he viewed his role as changing to be even more active in the community, to work for macro changes in institutions and structures.  I've always remembered that conversation and it's motivated me to work harder for changes that benefit the community.  Larry was an amazing person and role model.  He will be greatly missed.

-Shirley Porterfield Professor, University of Missouri-St. Louis


I have been profoundly influenced, both personally and professionally, through the social work education I received at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and Center on Race and Social Problems. And I am grateful for having completed my education during Dean Larry Davis' tenure.

Dean Davis is well-known for founding the Center on Race and Social Problems. I recall Dean Davis regularly explaining his insistence that the term "race" appear prominently in the center's title, in recognition of W. E. B. Du Bois' truth-telling statement that society's most pernicious social problem was "the problem of the color line." Under Dean Davis' leadership, the Center on Race and Social Problems helped facilitate a community of scholars that supported students and hosted guest speakers, and that extended throughout the city of Pittsburgh and nation. I had the opportunity to engage in dialogues on racism and to learn from notable organizers, researchers, and policymakers. As I reflect on my time at the University of Pittsburgh, my appreciation for these experiences has only continued to grow. These experiences have propelled my continued learnings and shaped the research questions that I explore today. I will miss Dean Davis' sharp insistence to focus on consequential social problems and to engage in dialogues on racism. I am thankful to have experienced first-hand a part of his lasting legacy. 

-Terri Friedline Alumni of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work MSW and PhD programs


I really came to know Larry as a dean and colleague in Chicago and at Washington University (where Larry had been a former distinguished faculty member). Larrry was a dean's dean: wise, principalled, activist, provocative, and always friendly. Deans have a surprisingly lonely life -- many contacts, but few who appreciate their real challenges -- so surprising bonds emerge amongst deans. Larry was one of my best dean-friends and I so valued his counsel and collaboration. As a former faculty member, Larry had many opinions and insights about WashU. He had many opinions about St. Louis. He was always on point. I admired his passion and commitment to racial and social justice and he profoundly affected my decisions. He was justifiably proud of his Center. He so loved his family. My most lasting memories of Larry will be the dinners that Alberto Godenzi and I had with him at SSWR and St. Louis Group meetings -- very personal, forward-looking, and mind-opening. Nothing in my life like it. Sadly, neither Alberto nor Larry had the opportunity to fully live out their life biographies and aspirations. I will so miss Larry and treasure my time with him.

-Eddie, Edward Lawlor Emeritus, Dean and Faculty at the Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis


Dean Davis - Larry - has been a my mirror model and mentor from the first day that we.met at Washington University; he was on faculty and I was an MSW student.
After finishing my doctorate, Larry' insights were critical in shaping my life as a Black male in the academia.
I will miss his sincere & wise counsel as I miss my own father's when I am in need of insights on life. I will miss his humor and most of all I will miss hearing the story about how he has the original manuscript that became the first Godfather movie. His passing is such a loss to us all.

-Von Eugene Nebbitt, St. Faculty at Washington Univetsity


I was shocked and saddened to learn of Dean Davis' passing.  I long admired him as a scholar, an advocate and activist for racial justice, and a leader of social work and social work education.  I was honored when he invited me to give the keynote presentation at the School of Social Work's 100th anniversary celebration. Dean Davis could not have been more gracious, both in his introduction at the event and in his hospitality the evening before when he and his wife took me to dinner.  We had a stimulating and delightful conversation that night on far-reaching topics.  An autographed copy of his book, Why Are They Angry With Us?, is in a prominent place on my book shelf.  I will miss his wisdom, his foresight, and his courage -

-Michael Reisch, Ph.D., MSW, Distinguished Professor of Social Justice Emeritus, University of Maryland, School of Social Work


Larry was a great mentor, colleague, and friend, particularly during my pre-tenure years on the George Warren Brown School of Social Work faculty. I recall that he took me to dinner during my campus interview following my job colloquium. He gave me the "talk," a tour of St. Louis, and his beautiful home in the Central West End, located in an historic section of St. Louis. Larry will be sorely missed and remembered for his prodigious contributions to the social work field.

-Letha Chadiha Rose C. Gibson Professor Emerita, University of Michigan 


I have known Larry Davis since graduate school at University of Michigan. He joined the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, and I joined a couple years later. He took me underwing and guided me in the process, treated me like a brother, and over the years we became very good friends. He was kind, always learning. We could go into each other's office, close the door, and say anything that was on our mind. When he left St Louis to become dean at Pittsburg, I missed him a great deal. But the move was right. He could start a new center on his lifelong research topic--race in America--and he could use his vision and keen social awareness and to make his deanship highly successful. The Pitt School of Social Work rose in the national rankings. I served on the Board of his Center on Race and Social Problems and a few years ago I was honored to give the keynote speech at the 100th Anniversary of the Pitt School of Social Work. We kept in touch until his final days. I still miss him a great deal. When he was a boy, Larry asked about White people, "Why are they angry with us?" and in one way or another he asked this question his whole life. He deserved a better answer than the world provided, but he always asked with love, with the underlying assumption that we can do better. Because of this higher standard for humanity, many people who knew Larry Davis have indeed been able to do better. 

-Michael Sherraden Colleague and Friend


Dean Larry Davis came to the University of Pittsburgh during my last year or two there, I believe.  He became quite a supporter of my work.  We had both been through a few hurtful things in our careers and he was so strong.  He helped me to put things in perspective, both professionally and personally.  He never shared with me his physical struggles, so his death has been quite a shock to me.  He was a person I have cared deeply for and about and because I so admired the kind of person he was, I stayed in touch with.  In fact, we were having conversations about life and work in the past year.  I will miss him greatly and I know that he was very happy with his life in his last years.  I know also that he would be very pleased with the way he is being remembered.  About that I feel very good.

-Aurora P. Jackson Professor Emerita, UCLA


When Larry Davis arrived at the George Warren School of Social Work in 1977, I did not know that we were recruiting a future star faculty member who would also become a close and dear friend.

Warm and witty, Larry was both caring and candid. He was suave and stylish and he was blessed with exquisite interpersonal skills.

A first rate applied social scientist, adept in cultivating fruitful town-gown relations, he was a man with a mission. A ceaseless champion of racial equity and justice, in many respects he became the conscience of the social work profession.

I learned so much from Larry. I will sorely miss him.

-Shanti Khinduka Retired faculty, Washington University in St. Louis


I first met Larry in 1991 at the Parkmoor in St.Louis.  Dashing. Dapper. A teacher from the start.  It is my good fortune to be his colleague at WashU.  Over these thirty years, over numerous conversations, Larry brought me into his life's journey and his life in the academy.  He challenged me to confront and take on racism.  This is a loss to the world, the profession, and a personal loss.  He was an important voice for anti-racist social work, well ahead of many in social work.  With degrees in Social Work and Social Psychology, he brilliantly wielded these disciplines to provide keen insights into racism in America.  In this time of our loss, we must also be inspired to take on what Larry called America's Grand Challenge - Racism.  I will miss you dearly, Larry.

-Gautam Yadama, Dean, Boston College School of Social Work


Larry Davis was a dear friend and outstanding colleague. His intellectual contributions had an enormous impact on the field of Social Work and beyond. Larry served on the University of Michigan visiting committee and made significant suggestions on how to advance the missions of the School of Social Work in Ann Arbor, his alma matter. At the University of Pittsburgh, Larry was a trailblazer and an innovator who led with vim and vigor. In particular, the Center on Race and Social Problems is truly a jewel in the crown of the University of Pittsburgh. Larry will be sorely missed. 

"The right of commanding is no longer an advantage transmitted by nature; like an inheritance, it is the fruit of labors, the price of courage."    -Voltaire

-Paula Allen-Meares, Chancellor Emerita, John Corbally Presidential Professor Emerita, Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Dean and Professor Emerita/Norma Radin Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan


Thank you for your all the work and information you've added to the field of social work. Thank you also for the opportunity to take part in the study abroad program through CRSP. It has truly added so much to my career. I am
praying for your family during this time. 

-Anette Nance, Alumni 


In 2006, as a graduating BSW student from historically Black Jackson State University, I was torn between where I should earn my MSW. After receiving full-ride scholarship offers to the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University, I was uncertain if returning back home to Michigan was the right decision for me. After meeting with Dean Davis, I knew without a doubt that Pitt was the right institution for me. Seeing an African American male in leadership was and still is extremely important to me. At that time, I would have never gained this experience at Michigan or Western Michigan. I will always be thankful and grateful for Dean Davis's contribution toward my own personal growth and development. Thank you for believing in me, Dr. Davis. Your legacy will continue on. You are truly a legend.

-Dr. Christopher Robinson, MSW Alumnus


During his tenure as an adjunct professor at Norfolk State University’s Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, Dr. Larry Davis contributed an elevated level of conscious intelligence that inspired all doctoral students to expand our thinking in our search of the nature and scope of knowledge defined as “epistemology ‘. This experience nurtured our growth as scientific thinkers which later propelled us into positions of power, influence, and responsibility in various social work settings locally, nationally, and internationally.
Dr. Larry Davis was not only a good professor that inspired his students to have confidence in their professor, but he was also an exceptional professor who inspired his students to have confidence in themselves. Thanks for being an “Exceptional Professor”!! 

Your memory will live on in all of the many lives you touched.

Rest in Peace Sweet Prince,

-Dianne Davis-Wagner, Former Student, The Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, Norfolk State University 


Dean Davis was a friendly person who liked to share his work with others. I wasn't affiliated with the School of Social Work very long, but I do remember the lovely Christmas party I was invited to the year I did work within the department. Dean Davis and his wife were so welcoming.

-Karla Perelstine, Past staff


What a man, what a man, what mighty good man!!

The news of Dean Davis' death is very hard to take.  I really looked up to him with admiration as a man of the highest honor that respected all that crossed his path.

There is no replacement for a man of his kindness and stature...I will miss him for the rest of my life. My deepest condolences to his entire family

-May he rest in peace with all of God's Blessing
 

-Marlon Jones Staff, GSPH for 27 years; CGS, '98; GSPIA, '06


He invited me to join with him as an advisor for his CRSP, and I was invited to join. He always impressed me with his interest in learning about research related to race - and many other areas - and I had long pursued research related to the criminal justice process and system, and especially involving differential treatment by race. All of this gave rise to many interesting discussions with Larry, and he was always quite ready to engage findings that might contradict his prior positions. He was an individual with enormous intellect and integrity.

-Alfred Blumstein, Advisor to CRSP; My professional affiliation is with the Heinz College of CMU.


Larry Davis was larger than life. I had the privilege of taking doctoral courses from him at WUSTL in the late 1980s and serve as his RA. He not only imparted knowledge to me, but taught me to question....and to never be complacent in my scholarship. I would make what I thought was an insightful comment and he would say "why?" The conference on race that he planned and held in Pittsburgh was the best conference that I have ever attended. That was because he encorporated the ability for speakers and attendees to interact and learn from one another. He leaves a big space in the world that we have to do our best to fill. 

-Sarah Gehlert, Student 


Dean Larry Davis was a champion and leader who made a lasting impact on the Pittsburgh community and the social work profession. I met Dean Davis when I was a doctoral student at Pitt.  I was honored when he later hired me to come back to Pitt in 2014. I really enjoyed getting to know him and his wife Kim at all of the wonderful parties at his home! I could always see how proud he was of Kim and how she made every one of us feel welcome. And of course he showed off Kim's amazing baking skills... she makes the best sweet potato pie I've ever had!  What a wonderful time we had singing Christmas carols at their holiday party! In so many ways, Larry made an unforgettable mark on our field and in our lives. He will be sorely missed!  

-Mary Ohmer, Faculty 


Larry and I "grew up" together as social work faculty members. Our offices were just a couple of doors apart, and we wore nearly bare the path between them.  Marveling at our transitions from first-generation doctoral students to faculty members, we learned together how to teach (co-teaching with each other), craft research projects, and mentor students.  We enjoyed telling each other about our mothers. Larry adored his mother, and always described her as precious; of course she found Larry precious too.  Shortly after his first son was born, he marveled to me about the wondrous work of motherhood (although he was working equally hard at being a wonderful-if sleep deprived-father). 
As young faculty members, Larry and I supported and challenged one another. Friendship and laughter helped carry us through writing our first book together.  Although I had studied social psychology as a graduate student, I came to really learn the discipline through Larry.  He perceived the world, thought, spoke, taught, wrote, and served his communities through the lens of social psychology-and its lessons for racial justice. I am grateful for his imprint on the profession we both loved.  Larry's last book, "Why are they so angry with us?," triggers memories of our conversations over the years and keeps vivid their lessons.  Thanks Larry for the memories, the love and friendship, and the many ways you made the world a better place and me a wiser person. 

-Enola Proctor, Faculty member, the  Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis