Loyola University Chicago


Larry E. Davis, PhD

School of Social Work

Larry E. Davis, PhD

Director, Center on Race and Social Problems, and Donald M. Henderson Chair: University of Pittsburgh

Larry E. Davis, PhD, has dedicated his life and career to issues of race, civil rights, and social justice. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan—one in social work and the other in psychology. He pursued a dual PhD because he believed that the methodology of psychology combined with the tools of social work would enable him to bridge the gap between analysis and application. He then joined AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and spent three years in one of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods.

Before coming to the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work in 2001, Dr. Davis taught social work and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis and held its E. Desmond Lee Chair in Ethnic and Racial Diversity.

At the University of Pittsburgh, he is the Donald M. Henderson Professor and served as dean of the School of Social Work from 2001 to 2017. He currently serves as the founding director of the Center on Race and Social Problems, which conducts applied social science research on race, ethnicity, and color, the first such American center.

Dr. Davis has been recognized as a leading scholar of the narrative about race in America and its role in social justice. His academic life has been dedicated to the creation of solution-based dialogues that promote a more racially equitable society. Over the years, Dr. Davis’ work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Science Foundation.

His publications have appeared in Social Work Research, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, and the Journal of Educational Psychology and Social Work. He has written, edited, or co-written seven books, including his latest, Why Are They Angry With Us: Essays on Race (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Dr. Davis is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Council on Social Work Education, the Society for Social Work and Research, and the Inter-University Consortium for International Social Development. In 2015, he was inducted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

In addition, Dr. Davis is the founder of Black Administrators and Scholars (BARS) and REAP, a consortium of Race, Ethnicity, and Poverty centers.

He is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work. He is also the first person to receive both the 2016 Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award by the Council on Social Work Education and the 2018 Society for Social Work and Research Distinguished Career Achievement Award.

Dr. Davis has three sons, Keanu, Naeem, and Amani.