Joe Solis

1928 – 2010

Pioneering field work consultant and beloved mentor to hundreds of Latino MSW students

Joseph Henry Solis, a native San Franciscan, was born on September 9, 1928. He received his MSW from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare in 1953. After serving in the army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he worked in the military prison, he returned to Berkeley, first as a practicing social worker in the city and later as a lecturer at the School.

Solis worked as a field work consultant in the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare teaching and developing field internships until he retired in 1991. His outreach efforts resulted in the recruitment and retention of over two hundred Latino students to the UC Berkeley MSW program. He co-developed and was project director of the Latino Child Mental Health Program, was instrumental in creating La Familia Counseling Service and LaClinica de la Raza, both agencies that continue to provide a wide range of social and medical services to hundreds of Latino individuals and families in the East Bay.

From 1983 to 1995, the Universidad de Guadalajara and the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley cosponsored the Intercambio Program allowing students to travel to Mexico and experience first-hand the factors that impact migrant families. This innovative program allowed students and faculty in each of these two institutions to visit the other while receiving instruction and field experience in the areas of social work and public health. Developed by Solis in response to the needs of his students, the program was designed to promote better understanding of the language and culture of Mexican/Latino clients and provide more effective services. It also impacted the curriculum of the School inspiring collaborative research at the University for the benefit of underserved Latino communities.

Solis was awarded the Berkeley Citation in 1991 for his extraordinary achievements in the field of Social Welfare and his outstanding service to the Berkeley campus.

Solis served as a role model to countless Mexican and Latino students who now serve as directors, administrators, academics, clinicians, and politicians among other positions in social work in California. He was friend, teacher, mentor, advisor, community advocate and role model for hundreds of students. Husband, father and grandfather, Joseph Solis died on April 15, 2010 at the age of 81.

In memory of his life-time commitment to the underserved Latino population in this country, his family established the Solis Family Fellowship to provide financial assistance to MSW students preparing for a career with the underserved populations of Latino individuals and communities in the United States.

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