Social work research scholar and administrator
Rino Patti was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to parents who immigrated to the United States from Sicily. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to the San Diego area, where he was later reared by extended family members due to the illness of his mother and the disruption of the family system by World War II. He received his undergraduate degree from San Diego State University and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in social work from USC.
Patti was appointed dean of the USC School of Social Work in 1988, bringing with him years of administrative experience from the University Of Washington School of Social Work, where over time he served as director of the Social Research Center and director of the doctoral program. During his tenure as dean at USC until 1997, Patti fostered a substantial increase in faculty research; redesigned the PhD program; and helped create the USC Family of Schools, which has grown to a dozen schools. He was instrumental in forming a seminal collaboration between the School of Social Work and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services to establish in-service training and degree-granting programs for public child welfare employees, a program that served as the basis for the statewide California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) that he helped found. He provided support for the interdisciplinary public/private Los Angeles County Roundtable for Children.
Patti contributed to the expansion of scholarship in social work, a mission that helped translate research into sound social policy. He served as president of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work during which time he was involved in the creation of the Institute for the Advancement for Social Work Research (ISWR) to ensure the presence of scholarly interests of social work in Washington, D.C. He served as chair of the National Institute for Mental Health Implementation Committee. He also co-founded the Administration in Social Work journal, which he guided as associate editor and editor.
His honors include the Presidential Award for Excellence in Social Work Research from the National Association of Social Workers, the George D. Nickel Award from the California Social Welfare Archives at USC, the Career Achievement Award from the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration, and the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award, one of USC’s most prestigious faculty honors. Most recently, he received the 2012 Chauncey Alexander Lifetime Achievement Award from the Network for Social Work Management.
Throughout his career, Patti’s teaching and scholarly interests have focused on the organization and administration of social welfare services, with particular emphasis on the processes and conditions in organizations that produce high-quality, effective social services. He is the author of nearly 50 articles, book chapters and several books, including Managing for Service Effectiveness in Social Welfare (with John Poertner and Charles Rapp), Social Welfare Administration: Managing in a Developmental Context, and Change from Within (with Herman Resnick).
Patti held the Margaret W. Driscoll and Louise M. Clevenger Professorship in Social Policy and Administration at USC from 1999 until his 2001 retirement. His research in social policy and social work administration has helped human service agencies become better providers, their practitioners become better advocates for disadvantaged and disenfranchised populations, and the field of social work become more effectively involved in policy development.