Celebrating 125 Years

Alumni Achievement Award – Dr. Wilma Cecelia Peebles-Wilkins

Photo of Dr. Wilma Cecelia Peebles-Wilkins

Dr. Wilma Cecelia Peebles-Wilkins

Dr. Wilma Cecilia Peebles-Wilkins has devoted a 40-year career to building the capacity of the field of social work to help address society’s needs.

Wilma graduated in 1967 from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a minor in Social Work. She earned a Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University before coming to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she obtained her Ph.D. at the School of Education in 1984.

Wilma has worked as a social work practitioner, administrator and educator, in the public and private sectors. Her background includes serving as a social worker in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1960s, assisting autistic children and their families. She has also worked in pediatrics in an acute care hospital. It’s a background that informed her work in a career in social work education leadership.

At North Carolina State University, she held several positions, including serving as Director of the Social Work Program and as Associate Head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work where she held an appointment as Associate Professor. She was one of the early gubernatorial appointees to the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board.

Wilma joined Boston University’s School of Social Work in 1991 as an Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. In 1994, Wilma was named Dean and Professor of the Boston University School of Social Work. She served in that position for 12 years until 2006.

Wilma broadened the research agenda of the school, establishing mechanisms to allow faculty to dedicate more of their time to scholarship. The school became increasingly visible during Wilma’s tenure, with faculty publishing more than 30 books and being ranked No. 8 in cited works among social workers. She worked to update the school’s curriculum to adapt to evolving social needs, especially within the fields of health, mental health, and managed care.

In her scholarship, Wilma focused on historical developments in African-American social welfare, managed care services, and issues associated with human diversity, inequality, and discrimination.

She has been recognized by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers with its 2002 annual award for Greatest Contribution to Social Work Education. She was inducted into the National Academies of Practice as a Distinguished Practitioner, and was named as a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers. She served on the editorial board of the journal Children and Schools for six years; as editor-in-chief for three of those years.

Wilma is now is a visiting scholar at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Center. She maintains a teaching aid website co-sponsored by Boston University and the John Hope Franklin Center, and continues to do mentoring, editorial, and advisory work in social work education.

In recognition and appreciation for her devotion to the field of social work and to the families served by it, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education honors Dr. Wilma Cecelia Peebles-Wilkins with its Alumni Achievement Award.