Announcement Regarding Jeanette Takamura, Dean of the School of Social Work

August 2, 2016 @ 5:26 pm

The following is the text of an email sent to the Columbia community by the Office of the President, August 1, 2016, 11:00 a.m.

I write to share with you that Jeanette Takamura, Dean of the School of Social Work, has informed me that she will be stepping down from her position on December 31, 2016, after successfully leading the School for 15 years.

Dean Takamura’s leadership during this period has resulted in important advances on several fronts, including new academic programming dedicated to strengthening the global and interdisciplinary character of the School. The nine research centers established under her direction are found on our own campus and locations around the world. They offer the Social Work faculty greatly enhanced opportunities to educate, serve, and collaborate on research with colleagues from Columbia’s Morningside and Medical Center campuses and with academic partners from other universities here and abroad. This has occurred at the same time that the School has expanded its longstanding commitment to serving Harlem and Bronx neighborhoods through pioneering initiatives and partnerships.

The great strides forward in the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversification of the School’s faculty—an objective inseparable from achieving the highest levels of academic excellence—have been supported by a rigorous mentoring program for junior professors resulting in a record number of faculty earning tenure during Jeanette’s time as Dean. Perhaps the greatest testament to any dean’s leadership is found in the contributions to society made by a school’s faculty and graduates, and, by this measure, the School of Social Work has been flourishing. The School’s faculty members are routinely sought by government and non-governmental organizations for their leadership and expertise in addressing society’s most challenging problems, including poverty, criminal justice, and the education and training of youth in developing countries. And, for more than a decade, a Washington-based leadership program has been placing talented and public-spirited alumni in consequential policymaking positions throughout the federal government.

Jeanette plans to take a well-earned leave upon concluding her term as Dean and subsequently will return to her position as a full-time tenured member of the faculty that she has led with such dedication. I know that she is looking forward to resuming her teaching and research, and we are delighted that Jeanette will remain an important part of the Columbia community. I will soon convene a search committee to assist in the identification of her successor. For now, on behalf of the University, I simply want to congratulate Jeanette on a job well done and thank her for her exemplary service.


Lee C. Bollinger

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Jeanette C. Takamura joined the School of Social Work as its first female dean in 2001 after serving in the second Clinton administration as assistant secretary for aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Among other achievements, she led the development and enactment of a modernized Older Americans Act and established the National Family Caregiver Support Program, the federal government’s first formal recognition of the significant contributions and needs of family caregivers. In addition, she spearheaded an initiative to lay the foundation for aging policy and program coordination and collaboration across executive branch departments and agencies for the first decade of the new millennium.

Early in her career, Dean Takamura was a practicing social worker serving youth and families. She held senior executive positions in the Hawaii state government and faculty and administrative appointments in higher education in Hawaii and California. She has served on numerous national and international boards, commissions, and working groups, is a fellow of the National Academic for Public Administration and the National Academy for Social Insurance, and has received numerous awards, among them the Lucy Stone Award from the White House for her advocacy on behalf of older women and the enactment of the National Family Caregiver Support Program. In 2006, she was named a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation, the premier professional association for social workers.

Her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology and her master’s degree in social work are from the University of Hawaii, and she holds a Ph.D. in social policy from Brandeis University.