The Columbia School of Social Work announces the creation of the Alice P. Lin Lecture and Doctoral Scholarship in honor of distinguished doctoral alumna Alice P. Lin, a prominent social welfare administrator and behavioral health care consultant.

The Alice P. Lin Lecture will be the first annual lecture at Columbia to focus on public policy and administration. The Alice P. Lin Doctoral Scholarship will provide partial tuition assistance for a doctoral candidate, with special consideration for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, and will be awarded for the first time this coming academic year.

“By supporting our doctoral researchers and promoting the exchange of ideas, these programs will enrich our shared intellectual life at the School of Social Work,” said Interim Dean Irwin Garfinkel. “The Lin Scholarship and Lin Lecture are a fitting tribute to Dr. Lin, and a profound investment in our community.”

Born Mujung Poo in Chengdu, China, Alice P. Lin, grew up in Taiwan. She came to America in 1964 to study social work at a graduate level at the University of Michigan, where she received a full scholarship.

“I was stimulated and challenged to think beyond my immediate concerns,” she reflected in her 1990 memoir, Grandmother Had No Name. She excelled despite the challenges of adapting to a new language and country. She went on to build on that initial success by earning a doctorate in social policy and management from the Columbia School of Social Work in 1985.

Dr. Lin enjoyed a decades-long career in social welfare administration, serving as the chief policy analyst for long-term care in the New York State Governor’s Office and then as the senior deputy commissioner for operations in the New York State Office of Mental Health. In the latter role, was responsible for the day-to-day operation of five regional offices, 31 state psychiatric centers, and numerous community residential and support programs.

Leaving New York State for North Carolina in 1993, she taught courses on long-term care policy, managed care, and social policy implementation at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and began consulting for local and state governments on projects that focused on system redesign and service delivery for persons with mental illness, developmental disabilities, addictive disorders, and special needs.

Dr. Lin frequently shared stories from this stage of her career, particularly her travels (she made several return trips to China), with colleagues at CSSW while serving for eight years as president of the Advisory Board created by Dean Ronald A. Feldman.

Dr. Lin passed away in 2015 at the age of 72 after a heroic battle with cancer. She is survived by her children, grandchildren, brothers, and her husband of 48 years, Dr. Nan Lin, who established the Lin Lecture and Doctoral Scholarship in her honor.

“My wife strongly identified with Columbia School of Social Work,” Dr. Nan Lin said. “The Lin family is very pleased to affirm that affinity.”

In her memoir, which concentrated on her diverse family heritage and her mixed Eastern and Western education, Dr. Lin wrote:

“The very survival and growth of humankind depends on how the races and nations live and work together, and how men and women learn to share the same dreams.”

With the creation of a social work education initiative in her name, Dr. Lin’s own dreams will now be shared across generations of Columbia’s doctoral students.

Related external link:

“Scattered and Gone: Remembrances of Cousin Li” (PDF: 15 pages), an essay by Dr. Alice P. Lin published in Caveat Lector 26.1.

 

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