The Catalyst

Dr. Larry Davis Visit

In October, The School of Health and Human Services and The Social Work Department welcomed Dr. Larry E. Davis to campus to present “Health and Human Service Delivery in a Changing and Increasingly Racially and Economically Diverse Society.” Dr. Davis currently serves as the dean of the School of Social Work and the director of The Center on Racial and Social Problems at the University of Pittsburgh. The presentation spoke to the rapidly changing racial demographics of the United States population in the past, present, and future. The socioeconomic disparities among different racial populations were emphasized during the presentation, illustrating the still widening gaps in income and quality of life for minority populations. Dr. Davis accentuated the dynamic of different class systems social work professionals, normally from the dominant culture, have when working with clients of lower socioeconomic classes and the challenge that might present for the professional relationship.

Dr. Davis left the professionals and social work students in attendance with 7 suggestions to consider when working with diverse clients:

1.      Behavior is purposeful; an action which may seem inappropriate or maladaptive to a professional likely has some purpose to the client. We as professionals should examine what the client gets in return from those actions.

2.      Demonstrate respect; especially for those who society holds in low esteem. Often clients from low socioeconomic background have been looked down upon by professionals in a helping relationship, which can be a hindrance on a productive relationship.

3.      Examine our past attitudes or beliefs; as professionals we must continually examine what we hold to be true and why we hold these truths.

4.      Develop a wide repertoire of knowledge and skills; culturally appropriate knowledge and skills are the foundation of working with diverse client systems.

5.      Be aware of resources; Awareness of the different resources in the community will be important in making sure diverse client’s needs are met.

6.      First impressions are important; making a positive impact on a client during the first meeting can be a springboard for future success in the relationship.

7.      Anticipate success for the client; do not enter a relationship with the client anticipating their failure. Projecting that the client has the power to be successful in interventions will help empower the client.


Following the presentation, students and professionals were invited to stay for a panel discussion featuring Dr. Deola Brumbaugh-Johnson of the Social Work Department, and Dr. Manijeh Daneshpour of the Department of Community Psychology, Counseling and Family Therapy, and Dr. Susan Johnson Warner of the Department of Nursing. The panel spoke about race and diversity from the stand point of faculty on a college campus and in a professional environment. Insight was given by each panelist about helpful tactics coworkers and students have used to ensure appropriate interactions when considering race in a college environment.

- Mathew Berry

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