School Mourns the Loss of Beloved Alumna and Outstanding Teacher Agnes Louard
On March 28, 2018, retired Associate Professor Agnes A. Louard died peacefully at her home in New York City at the age of 96. Professor Louard enjoyed an extraordinary career as a social work practitioner and mentor, and was a valued member of every community she took part in—especially this one.
Born in Savannah, Georgia, Professor Louard received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from Fiske University before earning her MSW from the Columbia School of Social Work in 1948.
Appointed by the Governor Nelson Rockefeller to shape and launch the inaugural Head Start program nationwide, she assumed leadership positions at several New York City agencies, including the Manhattanville Community Center, which serves children and youth with special needs, and the Union Settlement Association, which has served the people of East Harlem since 1895.
Joining the faculty of the Columbia School of Social Work in 1952, she became an immediate favorite among MSW students for her witty personality as well as her generosity in imparting career guidance and advice for living a happy life.
Her dedication to public service extended to a robust support of civil rights, anti-poverty efforts, public education, youth empowerment, medicine, and arts organizations. In memory of her late husband, V. Benjamin Louard, Professor Louard founded the V. Benjamin and Agnes Louard Scholarship at our School—one of the first scholarships to be expressly designated for African American students. The Louard Scholarship supports students with the financial challenges of graduate study and advances the Louards’ lifetime dedication to fostering education and social work expertise.
Professor Louard was publicly recognized twice for her 30 years of giving back to her alma mater: first as a recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Columbia School of Social Work in 1993; then as an awardee of the Alumni Medal from Columbia University in 1998. The latter recognizes alumni for distinguished service of 10 years or more to the University.
A valued member of every community that she took part in, Professor Louard also contributed to the community life of Martha’s Vineyard, where she was a homeowner for over 55 years, taking on leadership roles in the NAACP of Martha’s Vineyard; Cottagers, Inc., formed by a group of African American women homeowners on Martha’s Vineyard; and the non-ecumenical and progressive Union Chapel located in Oaks Bluffs, a town on the island.
A service commemorating Professor Louard’s life was held on April 10 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with several members of the CSSW community in attendance.