Social Work Legend Retires after Four Decades of Remarkable Service

Robert Morgan, Ed.D., Director of the Social Work Division at the Mailman Center for Child Development, has retired after more than 40 years of helping distressed families and special needs children throughout Miami-Dade County.

The beloved teacher, field instructor and mentor joined the Mailman Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 1967 and has led a long, fulfilling career assisting and advocating for underserved populations.

“The role of the social worker is to lift the individual caught up in the maelstrom of their life struggles, so that together you may set the barque of their life’s journey on a path leading to their dignity as a human being,” said Morgan, who will serve at UM as a Faculty Professor Emeritus.

“The role that social workers play and their service to families and individuals was always kept in high esteem at the Mailman Center,” added Morgan, a graduate of Fordham and Nova Southeastern universities, where he received his master’s in social work and doctorate, respectively.

Much of Morgan’s life’s work has focused on helping children with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as victims of domestic violence.

His interest in domestic violence was piqued by an invitation from Juvenile Court Judge Cindy Lederman to join a startup program centered on building a community-wide service coalition for women and children survivors of domestic violence. That initiative officially became the Heroes Program in 1992 and has provided services to migrant workers, the homeless and families referred by the Domestic Violence Court.

Morgan later collaborated with Miami-Dade County’s Coordinated Victims Assistance Center (CVAC) and was instrumental in devising the center’s holistic approach to serving families in need.

During his tenure at the Mailman Center, Morgan was equally dedicated to teaching and helping graduate students in social work — more than 400 of whom received training and field placement under Morgan’s tutelage.

“Dr. Morgan has left an indelible mark on families throughout our community and his students and colleagues at the Mailman Center,” said Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., professor and Executive Vice Chair of Pediatrics, Director of the Mailman Center for Child Development, interim Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, and Associate Chief of Staff for Holtz Children’s Hospital. He added that Morgan loved teaching and presented yearly at local, state and national social work and mental health conferences.

“What we never knew,” Armstrong said, “was whether Dr. Morgan would give a conventional lecture or appear in a jester’s hat with bells, leading his students in a song. Bob has always been an educational innovator with a penchant for making learning fun.”

So inspired were a few Miller School clinical social workers who worked with Morgan that they formed a networking group several years ago called “The Morgan Group.”

One of Morgan’s career highlights was his participation in the 1995 Public Broadcasting Service documentary Faces of Fear, narrated by Diane Sawyer.

Among his awards and accolades, Morgan received the Coral Gables Police Department’s Outstanding Community Service Award in Service to Victims of Crime; the Significant Contribution to Social Work Education Award from Barry University School of Social Work in 2012; the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Miami in 2005; and that same year the Lifetime Achievement in Field Instruction Heart of Social Work award from the National Council on Social Work Education.

In his retirement, Morgan, a beloved father and grandfather, also will continue to serve at his church, where he provides counseling to members.

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