Professor Phylis Peterman

Phylis Peterman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Commitment to Social Work

Professor Phylis Peterman, Associate Professor Emerita who devoted 47 years as a faculty member of Rutgers University–Newark’s Department of Social Work, will be honored this week when she receives the National Association of Social Workers, New Jersey (NASW-NJ) Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award will be given to Peterman at the group’s Annual Celebration of Social Work Excellence, which takes place on Wednesday at the Estate at Farrington Lake in East Brunswick, NJ.

“I am honored to receive this award from NASW-NJ and am grateful for the strong Rutgers-Newark Department of Social Work and the wonderful Rutgers-Newark community,” says Peterman.

Peterman arrived at RU-N in 1972 after completing her B.A. at Howard University and M.S.W. at Rutgers–New Brunswick, and doing a one-year Clinical Studies Program at the Post Graduate Center for Mental Health in New York City. While teaching at RU-N, she went on to receive a Certificate in Advanced Social Welfare from Columbia University’s School of Social Work, and a Ph.D in Social Welfare from Columbia’s School of Social Welfare.

Prior to RU-N, Peterman also did two-year stints as a social worker at Martland Hospital in Newark, in their Family Planning and OB/GYN units, and with the City of Newark Housing Authority as part of is Senior Citizen Support Project.

On campus Peterman became an integral part of the School of Arts and Sciences–Newark (SASN) family, serving as Chair of RU-N’s Social Work department for nearly 30 years and as Director of Field Instruction for a decade. She also was a faculty advisor for nearly 100 undergraduate independent-study and Honors College projects and won a number of university awards, including the Chancellor’s Award for Community Engagement, presented to the Department of Social Work, in 2008; the Rutgers University Presidential Award for Public Service in 2009; and Office of Student life and Leadership Faculty Member of the Year in 2012.

I am honored to receive this award from NASW-NJ and am grateful for the strong Rutgers-Newark Department of Social Work and the wonderful Rutgers-Newark community.

Outside RU-N Peterman served on the editorial board for Arete, the Journal of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina, for 26 years, and reviewed social work texts for Brooks Cole and Prentice Hall Publishers. She also was a founding member of the New Jersey Baccalaureate Social Work Education Association and was appointed by Gov. James Florio as an inaugural member of the New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners, which she served on for nine years.

“Dr. Peterman has been a mainstay in the social work community in our state for 40 years, and we’re excited to recognize her for her contributions to the profession and to celebrate her retirement,” says Jeff Feldman, Director of Advocacy and Communications for NASW-NJ.

NASW-NJ is a diverse membership organization that promotes, develops and strengthens the professional practice of social work and social workers. Through advocacy and public policy, NASW-NJ affects progressive social change and social justice for individuals, families and communities.

Peterman, for her part, feels blessed by all the support she’s received over the years.

“I am mindful and greatly appreciative of those who have forged the trails for me to move forward, women and men who were social workers and educators by profession and those who may not have had the formal titles but who were devoted to social and economic justice, education and made great sacrifices to make lives better and correct injustices,” she says. “These individuals and groups are the role models for me. And my family and church have also been supportive and loving throughout my career. It truly takes a village, and throughout my career I have and still have a wonderful village of love and support.”