Frederic Reamer Awarded for Advancement of Social Work

Frederick Reamer, RIC professor of social work

“Few match Rick’s knowledge of the values and ethics that guide the social work profession,” said Sue Pearlmutter, dean of RIC’s School of Social Work.

A prominent authority on criminal justice, juveniles in crisis and ethics, Frederic Reamer, RIC professor of social work, was honored by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Foundation with the 2012 International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award for “advancing the public image of professional social work.” The award includes a monetary prize of $3,000.

Reamer said he became a social worker because he was “absolutely fascinated” by criminal justice. He worked part time in correctional settings as a group facilitator, while teaching social work at the University of Chicago (1978–81) and later at the University of Missouri-Columbia (1981–83). He was also director of the National Juvenile Justice Assessment Center of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1979–81.

In the mid-1970s, Reamer’s fascination came to include ethics. He became a pioneer in professional and practical ethics in social work by conducting his own extensive research on ethics and applying it to the field of social work.

In 1982 he wrote The Teaching of Social Work Ethics and would later chair the national task force that wrote the current code of ethics adopted by NASW. His expertise is sought after on the local, national and international levels.

Reamer began teaching graduate students in social work at Rhode Island College in 1983. Over the years, he has also trained Rhode Island’s human services professionals in RIC's continuing education program and led ethics trainings in agencies across the country and abroad.

He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on professional ethics, professional malpractice and liability. During a recent sabbatical, he flew to Taiwan to make presentations on ethics and to act as a consultant to Taiwanese human service leaders eager to develop stronger ethical standards.

A prolific writer of over 20 books and many articles on human services issues, Reamer has also authored chapters on professional ethics in the Encyclopedia of Social Work, the Encyclopedia of Bioethics and the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics.

He was involved in several national research projects on ethics sponsored by The Hastings Center, the Carnegie Corporation, the Haas Foundation and the Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare.

And his expertise has been showcased on both film and radio. He was an essayist on National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition (“This I Believe” series), a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered and a guest on various radio broadcasts.

Since 2007 he has served as host and producer of NPR’s series “This I Believe–Rhode Island,” which is broadcast weekly by NPR and Rhode Island Public Radio. He is a featured commentator in the 10-part video documentary America’s Serial Killers: Portraits in Evil, in the 10-part video documentary Rampage: Killing Without Reason and on the PBS series This Emotional Life.

He has served on the ethics committee of the local chapter of NASW since 1988 and on the State of Rhode Island Parole Board since 1992.

In recognition of his public service and scholarship in the field of social work, Reamer has received numerous awards, including the most recent Sarnat Award, which recognizes his significant contributions to the public image of professional social work.

“I am honored and humbled by the award,” said Reamer.