Obituary: Martha Ozawa, Brown School professor emerita, 82

Martha N. Ozawa, former Bettie Bofinger Brown Distinguished Professor of Social Policy and professor emerita at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, died May 3, 2016, at her home in St. Louis. She was 82.

Ozawa spent more than four decades studying America’s public-assistance network, including Medicaid, Social Security and other social-welfare programs for older adults, women and children. She was known for being a dedicated scholar, valued student mentor and great friend to the Brown School.


Ozawa earned a bachelor of science degree in economics from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo in 1956. She then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a master’s degree in social work in 1966 and a PhD in 1969.

She joined the Brown School faculty in 1976 after a stint at Portland State University. She was an outstanding intellect and researcher on the effects of income security, health, long-term care, disability and other public programs.  Ozawa published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, wrote three major books, including “Women’s Life Cycle and Economic Security: Problems and Proposals” (1989) and 28 book chapters.

“As a new dean in 1974, I could not have been luckier than to recruit Martha Ozawa to the Brown School faculty in 1976,” said Brown School Dean Emeritus Shanti Khinduka. “Even before our school became well-known for our vast network of international partnerships, she was instrumental in forging strong connections between the school and the Japan College of Social Work.  A giant in the social work profession … Martha also played a key role in reinforcing the culture of rigorous and analytical scholarship.”

Michael Sherraden, the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Social Development, remembered Ozawa as “dedicated and productive, a scholar of singular and lasting impact during her era.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the modern, research-oriented Brown School was built around her.”

In 1985, Ozawa earned the first endowed chair at the school, being named the Bettie Bofinger Brown Professor of Social Policy, and becoming Distinguished Professor in 2003. She also established her own center at the Brown School in 2005, the Martha M. Ozawa Center for Social Policy Studies, aimed at assisting Asian governments and communities in making informed policy decisions. She retired in 2013.

Among Ozawa’s many accolades were the Distinguished Faculty Award from the university Alumni Association in 1988 and from the Brown School Alumni Association in 2000; the 2002 Excellence in Mentoring Graduate Students Award by the Graduate Student Senate; the 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research; and the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work.

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