Jonson-Reid installed as Ralph and Muriel Pumphrey Professor of Social Work

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton installs the Brown School’s Melissa Jonson-Reid as the Ralph and Muriel Pumphrey Professor of Social Work during a ceremony in Brown Hall Lounge May 2, 2016. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

Melissa Jonson-Reid, professor at the Brown School and director of the Center for Violence and Injury Prevention at Washington University in St. Louis, has been installed as the Ralph and Muriel Pumphrey Professor of Social Work. A lecture and reception to celebrate the occasion were held May 2 in Brown Hall Lounge.

Jonson-Reid’s primary academic focus has been to better understand the relationship of child abuse and neglect, services and outcomes so as to find ways of supporting healthy outcomes through improvements in policy and services. Jonson-Reid also has interests in child abuse prevention, school social work and early intervention with maltreating families. Her work is transdisciplinary in nature as reflected in her numerous publications and research support from federal agencies spanning child development, juvenile justice, mental health, health and public health.

She has prior practice experience in domestic-violence counseling and has worked as a school social worker and administrator with the California public school system.

“Muriel and Ralph Pumphrey were true innovators in the field of social work,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “We are grateful for their many contributions to the areas of social work and public health. I am confident that Melissa Jonson-Reid will carry forward their legacy of teaching, research and mentorship.”

“Melissa Jonson-Reid is a leader in the very important areas of abuse and neglect of children,” said Edward F. Lawlor, dean and the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor at the Brown School. “Through her research, and her groundbreaking work with the Center for Violence and Injury Prevention, she is helping to better the lives of children and families throughout our nation.”

Jonson-Reid is active in the area of policy and professional development related to child welfare and school social work and has won regional and national awards related to this work. She serves as an evaluation consultant for numerous community-based organizations and directs the Center for Violence and Injury Prevention that promotes healthy young families and healthy young adults by advancing evidence-based violence prevention through a range of education, research and training activities.

She is committed to innovation in teaching and has taught courses in law and social work, school social work, children’s policy, evaluation and statistics. In 2010, she launched a certificate program for graduate students in violence and injury prevention that recently became the first known master of social work concentration in that area. She has also been an active mentor and teacher in the Brown School’s PhD program and recently was recognized by the Graduate Student Senate with an Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.

Established in 2004, the Ralph and Muriel Pumphrey Professorship in Social Work honors a couple whose research contributed to the development and strengthening of social work knowledge.

Ralph Pumphrey, a nationally recognized innovator in community planning, graduated from Miami University and earned a doctorate in English social history from Yale University. He taught a humanities course in Yale’s Department of Electrical Engineering until 1937, when his work with the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities spurred a career change.

After earning a diploma from the New York School of Social Work in 1940, Pumphrey spent the next 15 years at social service agencies as a researcher and director. From 1956-59, he taught social work at New York University before joining Washington University’s faculty in 1959.

He served as acting dean of social work in 1964 and chaired the University Council from 1965-67. A dedicated teacher, he took great interest in his students, frequently serving as dissertation adviser. He died in 1997.

Muriel Pumphrey graduated from Oberlin College and earned a doctorate in social welfare from Columbia University. A professor emerita of social work at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL), she helped build the social work program there. Through her efforts, UMSL earned accreditation for a master’s program in social work. She authored “The Teaching of Values and Ethics in Social Work Education,” a landmark book in the field of social work education. Her work marked a sea change in the way social work practitioners viewed themselves and their clients. She died in 2000.

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