Former Dean of University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work Dies

Jan. 11, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas — Dr. Jack Otis, who was responsible as dean for establishing the baccalaureate and doctoral degree programs at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, has died. He was 86.

Otis died Jan. 5 in Nevada City, Calif. A memorial service will be held for Otis at the School of Social Work Jan. 23 at 4 p.m. in the Utopia Theater.

Otis was dean of the School of Social Work from 1965-1977 and professor from 1978 to 1993. As dean, he also established research and training centers in the school and revised the master's degree program to include an emphasis on community organization and social policy.

"Dr. Otis served as dean during a period of significant growth for the School of Social Work," said Dean Barbara White. "His intellect, creative vision and leadership created the foundation for the future achievements of the School of Social Work.

"Dr. Otis continued to support the school and its students up to the time of his passing. His contributions will always be recognized and his memory cherished."

Otis was a consultant from 1961 to 1965 to the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime chaired by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He was deputy director of the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development during the Kennedy administration.

Otis was instrumental in establishing national standards for the accreditation of undergraduate social work education and for several years he was a site visitor and member of the Council on Social Work Education Commission on Accreditation. His publications include "Business Civilization and the Family" and "Corporate Society and Education." His definition of child labor is in the Encyclopedia of Social Work.

In 2007, Otis created the school's Social Problem and Social Policy Lecture series, which has featured such speakers as Mark A. Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. Potok's talk on hate crimes drew a large crowd to the university as did another lecture in the series on legalizing drugs.

For more information, contact: Nancy Neff.

6 Comments to "Former Dean of University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work Dies"

1.  Joe Papick said on Jan. 21, 2010

I wish to express my sympathy to the family of Dr. Otis. I was a student during the time he was dean and I appreciate the leadership he provided to the School of Social Work during a time of great change and upheaval in our country. I greatly admire his commitment to the students and to social work.

2.  Dr. John Soto said on Jan. 21, 2010

When I came to UT GSSW, Jack was often criticized for his response to minority concerns. Having worked for him for five years, he always demonstrated a commitment to minority students and opening the doors of the UT Austin GSSW. I have tremendous respect for Jack, and I thank him for letting me be part of the GSSW family as a former faculty member. May he rest in peace.

3.  Brij Mohan said on Jan. 21, 2010

My deepest sympathies on the passing away of Dean Otis. It was my honor to have known him as a friend and colleague. Social Work has lost one of its pioneers and a very good friend.

May the heavenly abode soul rest in peace!
Brij Mohan

4.  Thomas Martinez said on Jan. 21, 2010

I attended the UT School of Social Work while Dr. Jack Otis was dean. I was a beneficiary from Dean Otis' work as my major was in the Administration, Planning, and Community Organization track.

How does one put a value on learning and skills that serve us for a lifetime?

Even a THANK YOU seems an understatement.

5.  Jewel Boswell Hudson said on Jan. 21, 2010

The Hudson family of Atherton, Calif. sends heartfelt love and joy for the life of this wonderful and joyous person. I first met Jack in 1972 when I was referred to him by a friend from the Robert Kennedy California Gang, as I called us, because we kept in touch and helped with each others' project over the years. In 2004, I asked Jack to help my daughter with his wisdom on the juvenile system when she and her husband started an organization called Lifeline2Success of youth offenders transferring back into the community in Memphis, Tenn., and of course he was happy to do it and had nothing but wonderful things to say about my daughter and her work after he reported back to me. He was a joy and a long time distant friend. GOD BLESS his family.

6.  John Spores said on Jan. 21, 2010

Most saddened to hear of Jack's passing. Remembering fondly when Jack was an early 1970s member of the CSWE Undergraduate Standards Committee, which I served as CSWE staff member. Jack made important contributions in that key period of progress and growth for baccalaureate social work education and continued to contribute in this and so many other areas over the years. Thanks, Jack, and my sympathies to his family and those closest to him.

John Spores
Professor Emeritus, University of Montana School of Social Work
Visiting Professor, Universiti Sains Malaysia