The University Record, October 11, 1999

Social Work inaugurates Marion Blue Professorship

By Bernie DeGroat
News and Information Services

School of Social Work Dean Paula-Allen Meares (right) with Ann Lurie (center) and William Meezan, the Marion Elizabeth Blue Endowed Professor in Children and Families. Photo by Bob Kalmbach
Child welfare expert William Meezan was installed last week as the School of Social Work’s Marion Elizabeth Blue Endowed Professor in Children and Families.

The School’s first fully endowed professorship was made possible by a $1.2 million gift from the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Family Foundation in memory of Ann Lurie’s mother.

At the inauguration, attended by Ann Lurie and her son Andrew, Meezan said that in order for America to fix and improve its child welfare system, it must first address the precursors for children coming into the system—poverty, violence and drugs. For example, a higher minimum wage and greater access to health care insurance would be steps in the right direction, he said.

In addition, child welfare services should address children’s needs within a family context, involve community resources in the planning and implementation of services, and use interventions that are culturally appropriate.

Finally, Meezan said that the evaluation of such programs should focus on their effectiveness and the well-being of families—not just on simple outcomes; that delivery of services should be better integrated with less fragmentation and inconsistency; and that communities overall should be strengthened.

“We need to recognize that if we have bad communities, we can’t raise healthy kids,” Meezan said in a post-inauguration interview. “We can only improve neighborhoods and communities if we work on significant fronts simultaneously—economic development, physical development, the creation of social opportunities, and the development of integrated social service systems.

“Unless we do that, we turn our community residents basically into clients, rather than citizens. We don’t need any more victims. What we need are strong families raising strong kids in strong neighborhoods with strong social institutions.”