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News Release


William Reid, Social Work Pioneer, Dies at 75 

Contact: Heidi Weber (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 20, 2003) - William J. Reid, a distinguished professor of Social Welfare and an internationally recognized scholar in social work practice and research at the University at Albany, died Nov. 17 at age 75. He was the principal architect of UAlbany's doctoral program in social welfare, which he chaired since 1985, and which has been recognized as one of the top programs in the country.

Reid is renowned as the “inventor” of the task-centered approach to social work, a pioneering method and philosophy of practice. His research contributed to a significant shift in methods of working with individuals and families. His recent work focused on working with families who have children at risk of failure in school.

He was awarded every major research prize in social work including the George Herbert Jones Professorship at the University of Chicago, the Award for Excellence in Research from the National Association of Social Workers and the Distinguished Achievement Award of the Society for Social Work and Research. In addition, he was awarded the Chancellor's Research Recognition Award from the State University of New York.

Reid began his career as a psychiatric social worker in the U.S. Army and went on to academic posts at Columbia University and the University of Chicago. He joined the University at Albany faculty in 1980 and was the recipient of the Excellence in Research award in 1986.

Reid authored 20 books and more than 160 articles and chapters in scholarly books and professional journals. His books, translated into as many as seven languages, include Research in Social Work (1999), The Task Planner (2000) and Educational Supervision in Social Work (2003). He is the recipient of Research Excellence Awards from the University at Albany and from the National Association of Social Workers and of the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society of Social Work and Research.

When he was named a Distinguished Professor of the State University of New York in 1998, Chancellor John Ryan quoted from one of Reid's nomination letters, "It is no exaggeration that there would be few social workers in the world who would not know of and respect Reid's work. There are few persons in our field of whom this can be said."

Reid earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Michigan in 1950 and 1952. He was awarded the Doctor of Social Welfare degree from Columbia University in 1963.

He is survived by his wife Anne E. (Ricky) Fortune, also a professor at UAlbany's School of Social Welfare; as well as his daughter, Valerie Reid Twentyman of New Jersey and her husband Mark; a grandson and twin newborn granddaughters.


Established in 1844 and designated a center of the State University of New York in 1962, the University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in eight degree-granting schools and colleges. The University is engaged in a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this nationally ranked University, visit

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