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  December 11, 2000

Ivor Echols, Social Work Professor, Dies

Ivor Echols, a former assistant dean of students and professor emeritus at the School of Social Work, died Nov. 25 at St. Francis Hospital. She was 81.

"We will always remember Dr. Echols as a sensitive, caring individual," says Andrea Bryan, director of student services at the School of Social Work. "Her life was dedicated to helping the poor, the underprivileged, and those suffering from racial injustices. She was indeed a role model for us and inspiration to countless others."

Echols had a strong commitment to the social work profession and led a distinguished career as a social worker, teacher, higher education administrator and local, regional and national leader.

She joined the UConn faculty in 1970, a time when there were few African American women professors. She served as assistant dean for student affairs from 1985 until her retirement in 1989.

An advocate of the poor and underprivileged, Echols dedicated her life towards eradicating racial and economic barriers. She encouraged her social work students to be catalysts for change.

She worked to help establish the Organization of Black Social Work Students and contributed significantly to the recruitment of minority students at the school.

Echols served on the State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and was appointed to the Connecticut Historical Commission by former Connecticut Gov. William O'Neill. She was a former president of the Greater Hartford Chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, founder and first president of the Connecticut Caucus of Black Women for Political Action, and founding member of the National Association of Black Social Workers. She also was an active member of the Hartford alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for more than 65 years.

Born in Oklahoma City, Echols earned her master's degree in social work from Columbia University and her doctorate in social work in 1968 from the University of Southern California.

The School of Social Work Organization of Black Social Work Students has created a scholarship fund in her name. The Dr. Ivor J. Echols Memorial Scholarship was established to recognize the academic and community achievements of social work students of color and provides financial assistance towards their professional training.

Echols is survived by her husband, the Rev. Sylvester Echols, her daughter Kalu Wilcox, her son Kim Echols, a granddaughter and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held on Dec. 1. Donations may sent to the Dr. Ivor J. Echols Scholarship, University of Connecticut School of Social Work, Dean's Office, 1798 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06117.

Sherry Fisher