The Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at USC is deeply saddened by the loss of Rino J. Patti, Dean Emeritus and beloved Professor Emeritus. Double Trojan Horse, receiving her Masters of Social Work and Doctor of Social Work respectively from USC in 1960 and 1967, Patti passed away on September 16, 2021.
Patti was Dean of USC’s School of Social Work from 1988 to 1997, then Driscoll-Clevenger Professor of Social Policy and Administration until his retirement in 2001. From 1991 to 1993, he was President of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work (NADD) and the first chairman of the board of directors of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR) from 1993 to 1995. He was inducted into the inaugural class of Fellows from the prestigious American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) in 2010.
“In addition to his importance to our field and our school, Rino was an exceptionally caring, kind and decent man, and his leadership style reflected him in every way,” said John Brekke, USC Professor Emeritus Suzanne Dworak- Peck School of Social Work and member of AASWSW. “I always felt I could talk honestly with him about very complicated or difficult situations. I am very saddened by his loss. “
A nationally recognized educator and scholar, Patti was a staunch supporter and contributor to the expansion of social work scholarships, a career mission that helped her translate research into strong social policy and advancements in social work. profession of social worker. His prolific research in social policy and social work administration has helped social service agencies become better providers and practitioners to elevate their advocacy for disadvantaged and disenfranchised individuals and communities. In 1996, he received the Presidential Award for Research Advancement from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
“Rino was a rare combination of a broad thinker with an overview of social work policy and practice, a shrewd researcher and scholar, a talented administrator and, above all, a talented administrator. ‘a good person with a big heart. It has made him an admired and valued leader, teacher, mentor and colleague, ”said Michàlle Mor Barak, Dean’s Professor of Social Work and Business at USC and member of AASWSW.
During his tenure as Dean, he enhanced the prestige of the School of Social Work by redesigning the doctoral program to prepare students for academic careers and by fostering a substantial increase in faculty research. He was also instrumental in forming a foundational collaboration between the USC School of Social Work and the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), which has implemented continuing education and diploma programs for DCFS employees. This collaboration earned her a Commendation from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and served as the foundation for the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) that Patti helped found.
“Rino’s leadership style was so collaborative and encouraging that you almost couldn’t see how he created the magic, you just knew he had done it,” said Jacqulyn McCroskey, John Milner’s protection professor. childhood at USC Social Work. “In the case of establishing the DCFS-University of Los Angeles partnership, it brought all universities with MSW programs together with DCFS to create a different way of doing business that laid the groundwork for decades of investment in it. Statewide vocational training in social work for child protection. Rino has helped set the stage for this and more with his ability to connect with people, see the best in us, respect, honor and invest in his students, colleagues and partners. He was a modest-demeaned man with great intelligence and a wry sense of humor.
Patti received the USC Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the university’s most prestigious faculty honors, in 2006. In his convocation address, he humbly said, “ I am very honored to be recognized by the university. In my case, much of what I have been able to do in my professional life has been accomplished in collaboration with faculty, staff, and colleagues at USC and elsewhere, so this award is intended for them as well. Most of all, I am happy that we were able to do some good things for the school, the community and the profession during my time.
Mor Barak and Ferol Mennen, associate professor, came to USC the same year Patti became dean of the school of social work. Both feel incredibly lucky to have started their college careers under Patti’s stimulating guidance. “He was the kind of ‘boss’ everyone would like to have, but few do. He was ethical, collaborative, a wonderful scholar and an inspiring leader who cared deeply for the faculty and staff of the school, ”said Mennen. “He was proud to be a social worker and worked diligently to improve the profession and serve his clients more effectively. “
In 1997 Patti received the George D. Nickel Award from the California Social Welfare Archives (CSWA), awarded annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare field, and in 2012, the CSWA inducted him in its Hall of Distinction. In his oral history interview with Frances Loman Feldman For CSWA, Patti reflected on what motivated her to become a social worker – a combination of his childhood experiences as the son of immigrants from Sicily and an inspiring teacher during his undergraduate studies at the San Diego State University, where he graduated with honors in 1958.
Prior to returning to USC as Dean, Patti was a faculty member at the University of Washington for 20 years, where her teaching and research focused on the organization, management, and development of policies in human services. He served as chairman of the National Institutes of Mental Health Implementation Committee and co-founded and edited the journal Administration in Social Work.
Patti’s leadership and commitment to excellence in research and teaching has guided the School of Social Work into one of its most productive and respected decades. His work has greatly influenced the field of social work and inspired a generation of social workers to push the boundaries of their profession.
Patti is survived by his wife of 62 years, Nadine. They met at USC while they were both pursuing their masters in social work. He is also survived by his two children, Laura and Christopher, one grandson, Joshua, and two great-grandsons, Sebastian and Elias.