Honoring 100 for the 100th: Lennie Marie Tolliver

Professor Lennie-Marie Tolliver received her M. A. degree in social work from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in social work education from the Union Graduate School.

Tolliver was the first African-American appointed to a tenure-eligible faculty position on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus (1964). Other milestone events in her career were: Oklahoma delegate to the 1971 White House conference on Aging, a U.S. Senate-confirmed member of the Federal Council on Aging (1974-78) whose recommendations led to the establishment of the National Institute on Aging, U.S. Commissioner on Aging (1981-1984), the highest ranking Senate-confirmed social worker in the Reagan administration, U.S. Delegate to the United Nations World Assembly on Aging in Vienna (1982), first African-American delegate from Oklahoma to a Republican National convention (1976), Chair of the Commission on Family and Primary Associations (1985-87), leading the NASW’s historic work in the definition of the “new family,” and Chair of the Oklahoma Energy and Aging Consortium (1985-94). She was Chair of the Minority Affairs Committee of the Oklahoma Republican Party for 10 years. She remained active in state mental health and aging coalitions in New Jersey, where she moved following retirement from the School in 1994.

Her many honors include the Lennie-Marie Tolliver Alternative Care Center, Inc., an adult day care facility founded by the National Association of Black Social Workers in her name. She was named 1992 Byliner Honoree in Health by the Oklahoma City Professional Chapter of Women in Communications, Inc. She was listed in the first edition of “Who’s Who in Black America.”

At the School of Social Work (1964-94), she held vital academic and administrative leadership positions. She always looked for new challenges for herself and the School. She was Associate Director, Coordinator of Practicum, Chair of the Interpersonal Concentration, and Graduate Program Coordinator.

 

Her impact upon social work, social work education and the field of aging are beyond a mere description of responsibilities and roles. She inspired and mentored faculty and students alike. Professor Tolliver passed away in 1999.

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