Ismael Dieppa

Social work education leader and staunch advocate for underserved populations and Latino civil rights

A native of Puerto Rico, Ismael (Andy) Dieppa moved to Texas as a young man to attend college. He graduated with a BA degree from Sul Ross State University in 1958, received his Masters of Science in Social Work (MSSN) from Boston University in1961, a Masters in Public Health (MPH) from University of California, Berkeley in 1963 and his Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) from the University of Southern California in 1973.

During his career, Dieppa served in many innovative and exceptional leadership positions always promoting opportunities for disadvantaged and oppressed populations. He worked in the Department of Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Social Work, in Fresno and honed his organizing and advocacy skills in the newly created Economic Opportunity Commission in Santa Clara County, the first comprehensive areas service center established in that county, before accepting a position as Director of the Countywide Office of Economic Opportunity in Santa Cruz County in 1966. He assisted in the development of the Chicano Studies Program at the University of California, Riverside in the early 1970’s and in 1971 became the Executive Director of the East Los Angeles Mental Health Training Center, a joint project sponsored by University of Southern California (USC) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) designed to recruit and train Chicano social workers to work in their own communities.

After serving as Associate Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Denver and later as Dean of the School of Social Work at Arizona State University, in 1982, Dieppa assumed the position of Dean of the College of Social Work at San Jose State University a position which he held until 1992 where he introduced into the curriculum, Mexican-American Studies, Afro-American Studies and Urban Planning. He was one of the principal supporters of the development of CalSWEC (California Social Work Education Center) successfully advocating for the inclusion of all the State University Social Work Programs and serving in leadership positions on the first CalSWEC Board.

In 1993, he became the Chairman of the Social Work Department at the University of Texas, collaborating with the School of Nursing and Texas Tech Medical School in the Kellogg Foundation “colonias” project to provide health care and social services to impoverished communities. He retired in 2011 from his last position in education as Associate Dean at New Mexico Highlands University in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Ismael Dieppa has been a life-long advocate for disadvantaged and oppressed populations, recruiting underrepresented students to the profession of social work, growing existing social work programs and making them more inclusive. He infused into existing social work curricula African American, Chicano and American Indian Studies. His organizing efforts were key to the development of the Latino Social Work Network in California. His body of work as an educator, administrator, and social work advocate has left its mark on social work policy, practice, curriculum development, funding, and research. Throughout his career, Ismael (Andy) Dieppa has consistently demonstrated the passion and commitment of an exceptional and innovative leader – a true social work pioneer.

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