McKEESPORT, Pa. – Christopher Robinson, program director for the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program and assistant professor of health and human development at Penn State Greater Allegheny, is the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award for Social Work Education in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. Robinson, who earned a master of social work from the university in 2007, received the award virtually on Tuesday, Oct. 19, for his significant and impactful strides in the field.
"The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work is among the nation's best in producing top, diverse talent within the profession," said Robinson. "This award emphasizes social work faculty who have made significant contributions toward the continued development and advancement of social work education."
When reflecting on his achievement, Robinson noted, "It is truly a distinct honor and privilege. The past 11 years, assisting our region in training the future workforce of social work professionals, has been one of my greatest professional accomplishments to date."
"Much of my success in social work education involves creating and sustaining diverse, equitable, and inclusive community initiatives, securing highly competitive federal funding to make college more affordable, and improving access for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students to pursue higher education," said Robinson. "This is my innate passion, mission, and professional calling to the field. Uniting this passion with high-quality instruction helps to create an extraordinary undergraduate experience for social work students."
Robinson's passion for social work was inspired by his godfather, who was a social worker for the sickle cell anemia foundation in Robinson's hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan. From his godfather, Robinson learned that social workers work in many areas, not just commonly referenced fields such as childcare, adoption, and foster care.
"Social workers also work on a macro level," said Robinson. "Being able to help advance organizations and causes was something that I hadn't heard of at that time."
He also discovered that the values of the profession aligned with his personal values, something he discusses with students considering Greater Allegheny’s BSW program, starting in Summer 2021. The values are competence, dignity, and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, service, and social justice.
"I share with students that those values should be innate," said Robinson. "Those are the things that really help inspire social workers to instill change, not just in community and organizations but within families and individuals."
In addition to his MSW from the University of Pittsburgh, Robinson holds a doctoral degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor of social work degree from Jackson State University.