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POVERTY WARRIORS

For the past five decades, Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service has been led by three giants in the field—James Dumpson, MARY ANN QUARANTA, and Peter Vaughan—pioneers who have helped set the course for the profession.

In 1968 New York City, tough times had set everyone on edge.  Teachers and sanitation workers were striking. Racial tensions, already high, soared after the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr.  There were riots in Harlem, protests in Brownsville, students staging sit-ins, and garbage ablaze in the streets. Mayor John Lindsay declared the latter six months of the year “the worst of my public life.”   Clearly the reforms set in place by President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, including his declared war on poverty, had yet to accomplish their goals.  But they had ushered in a new era in social work, one in which, though societal ills still existed, there were more programs to address them.

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WILLIAM MEEZAN INSTALLED AS THE INAUGURAL QUARANTA CHAIR

William Meezan, Ph.D., a professor of social work and an expert in child welfare, was installed as the inaugural Mary Ann Quaranta Chair for Social Justice for Children on April 15, 2013.

Meezan receives the chair named after the late Mary Ann Quaranta, Ph.D., former dean of the Graduate School of Social Service, widely considered a giant in the field of social work.

While he never knew Quaranta personally, Meezan said he remembered her as someone who “never lost sight of the mission and values” of the profession.  As such he said he was “honored and humbled” by being named as the chair.

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NEW QUARANTA CHAIR SEEKS JUSTICE FOR SOCIETY'S MOST VULNERABLE CHILDREN

William Meezan, Ph.D., grew up in the University Heights section of the Bronx. His parents were socialists during an era when the political movement experienced a negative Cold War tinge.

“I was brought up with an extraordinary sense of people’s responsibility for each other and what a just world could look like,” said Meezan, who will be installed as the Mary Ann Quaranta Chair for Social Justice for Children in April at the Graduate School of Social Service.

Today, Meezan is internationally recognized as a public policy expert on the welfare of families and children in the child welfare system and the mental health impacts of those it serves. But after 40 years of work in the field he said he is disillusioned about the state of American family in general and in the social welfare systems that are supposed to support them.

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