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Joseph H. Solis (1928-2010)

Fieldwork Consultant Emeritus

Joseph H. Solis, fieldwork consultant emeriti at the School of Social Welfare for more than 20 years, passed away April 15, 2010. 

Born in San Francisco on September 9, 1928, Solis received a Masters of social welfare (MSW) degree from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare in 1953. After a stint in the army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he worked in the military prison, Solis returned to Berkeley, first as a practicing social worker and later as a lecturer at the School. He was a loving friend, teacher, mentor, advisor, community advocate and role model for hundreds of students. 

At Berkeley, Solis taught and developed field internships at the School of Social Welfare. He recruited and guided over 200 Latino students to graduate with M.S.W. degrees. He co-developed and was project director of the Latino Child Mental Health Program. He conceptualized and developed the Intercambio Program between UC Berkeley and the Universidad de Guadalajara, allowing students to travel to Mexico and learn firsthand the factors that impact migrant families. Joe was also instrumental in creating La Familia Counseling Service and La Clínica de la Raza.

From 1983 to 1995, the Universidad de Guadalajara and the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley cosponsored a program in which students and faculty visited each others’ institutions in order to receive instruction and field experience in the areas of social work and public health. This innovative program was developed by Solis, who was considered a pioneer in social work responsive to Chicano needs, and whose vision was to enrich the Latino curricula and inspire collaborative research at the University.

“Joe Solis was instrumental in the recruitment and retention of countless Chicano/Latino students over his long career at the School of Social Welfare,” said colleague Rafael Herrera. “His work has impacted, and will continue to impact the delivery of social work services nationwide through the work of his many former students. Joe was a kind, reflective, intuitive mentor and teacher whose dedication to improving the quality of life of the disadvantaged was a lifelong and tireless endeavor."

Solis won the Berkeley Citation in 1991 for his extraordinary achievements in the field of social welfare and his outstanding service to the Berkeley campus.

In honor of Joe’s productive and inspirational life, the Solis Family Fellowship was established to provide financial assistance to MSW students preparing for a career serving Latino people and communities in the United States, an important, growing and underserved need in the social work field.