Low Plaza

Former HHS Assistant Secretary Named New Dean of School of Social Work

By James Devitt

Jeanette C. Takamura

Columbia has named Jeanette C. Takamura as 17th dean of its 103-year-old School of Social Work. Takamura was assistant secretary for aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1997 to 2001. Since June 2001, she has held the Edward R. Roybal Endowed Chair in Applied Gerontology and Public Service at California State University at Los Angeles. On July 1, 2002, Takamura will become the first female dean at the nation's oldest school of social work.

"Jeanette Takamura brings a record of achievement and proven leadership ability that will benefit both the School of Social Work and the University," said President George Rupp. "She will commit her great energy and imagination to building on the school's more than 100-year history of generating and employing knowledge for the benefit of the socially vulnerable."

"Jeanette Takamura has demonstrated a deep commitment to solving some of the most difficult social problems that the nation faces," said Provost Jonathan Cole. "Her multi-disciplinary approach to solutions, her great energy and organizational skills and her record of practical accomplishments make her an ideal person to lead the nation's premier school of social work. She is a person who likes to break new ground and we're eager to work with her toward that end."

Takamura succeeds Ronald Feldman, whose 15-year tenure as dean of the School of Social Work concluded at the end of the 2000-2001 academic year. Sheila Kamerman, Columbia's Compton Foundation Centennial Professor and director of the University's Institute for Child and Family Policy, served as interim dean for 2001-2002 academic year.

During Takamura's tenure as assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, she led the development of a modernized Older Americans Act and the establishment of the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which were passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. In addition, during her tenure the federal Older Americans Act programs and services received the largest funding increases since 1972. During the 1999 International Year of the Older Person, she led a crosscutting U.S. executive branch effort to lay a foundation for aging policy and program coordination and departmental collaboration over the next decade.

"The Columbia University School of Social Work is one of the few comprehensive schools of social work," said Takamura. "Situated in a world-class university in a city where the international community comes together, the school has an exemplary faculty with a stellar record of accomplishments and students who are widely regarded to be among the best in the nation. It is enriched by strong support from the highest levels of the University and by the school's alumni. This is a time of great opportunity for the Columbia School of Social Work in general. I look forward with enthusiasm to working with faculty to prepare the next generation of professionals to assume leadership roles in addressing emergent societal issues."

Takamura was first deputy (chief operating officer) of health for the State of Hawaii's Department of Health from 1995 to 1997. In this post, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the third largest health department in the nation. She also initiated and led the coordination of aging, long-term care and disability programs as well as a statewide telemedicine initiative. From 1987 to 1994, Takamura was the director of the State Executive Office on Aging, where she set in motion the development of the nation's first state comprehensive long term care financing policy proposal and policies and programs to prepare a diverse population for an aging society, including those addressing various long-term care and retirement security concerns.

Prior to working in government, Takamura held faculty and administrative appointments in higher education. Takamura was a professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Social Work from 1982 to 1986. From 1975 to 1978, she was the director of the College of Health Sciences and Social Welfare, Health Team Development Program. During this period, she was also a member of the faculties of the School of Medicine and the School of Social Work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, concentrating upon interdisciplinary practice, social policy, and gerontology, which is the focus of her publications.

In June of this year, Takamura will receive the Humanitarian Award at the 2002 International Conference on Immunology and Aging. Previous winners include former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and former U.S. Senators George Mitchell and Mark Hatfield. At California State University at Los Angeles she established leadership programs in gerontology for promising health and human services students and secured substantial funding for two new initiatives She has served as an advisor to and technical expert for a number of national and international health and social welfare organizations. She is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a principal of the Council for Excellence in Government, vice president of the Older Women's League, and president-elect of the American Society on Aging.

Takamura earned a bachelor's degree and masters degree in social work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Ph.D. in Social Policy from Brandeis University. She is married to Carl T. Takamura, who is the executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable. They have one daughter, Mari Leigh.

Published: Apr 10, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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