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5 Questions with Faculty: Hal Lawson

Professor Hal Lawson talks with students, left to right, Kevin Fottrell, Jordan White and Tasha Anderson. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 14, 2016) — Professor Hal A. Lawson has a dual appointment in the School of Social Welfare and the School of Education, where he is a professor of Educational Administration and Policy Studies. He came to UAlbany in early 2000 from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

“I moved from my previous university because my wife was appointed Dean of the School of Social Welfare at UAlbany, and I agreed to relocate to support her,” Lawson says. His wife, Katherine Briar-Lawson, is now dean emeritus and a professor of social welfare.

Lawson specializes in partnerships between families, schools, the community and higher education, focusing on vulnerable children and neighborhoods and ways to improve health and learning outcomes.

What are your working on now?

I continue to work on a variety of school, family and community research and development projects that open opportunity structures and pathways for children and families challenged by poverty, social exclusion, and social isolation.

What made you decide to pursue this field?

I managed to “beat the odds” when I obtained unprecedented amounts of postsecondary education with attendant privileges. My life mission is to help other young people whose families have no such postsecondary education experience and success do the same.

What do you see as the challenges to those in your field?

Escaping the confines of tradition and industrial age institutions, and designing new institutions that are fit for purpose in 21st century global societies.

What’s the best thing about working at UAlbany?

Student diversity, and especially the University’s efforts to make undergraduate and graduate education more accessible and without a loss of quality.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins.

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