December 1, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Richard Vodde Recognized by National Association of Social Workers

Dr. Richard J. Vodde, a professor in Valdosta State University's Department of Social Work, was recently presented the prestigious Frankie V. Adams Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). He received a similar award in March from the organization’s South Georgia unit. He is pictured with his wife, Anna Vodde; Megan Black and Nicole Wasdin, Department of Social Work students; and Dr. Hanae Kanno, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work. 

VALDOSTA — Dr. Richard J. Vodde was recently presented the prestigious Frankie V. Adams Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). He received a similar award in March from the organization’s South Georgia unit.

“Having one’s achievement recognized by one’s peers is an incredible honor,” said the licensed clinical social worker and professor in Valdosta State University’s (VSU) Department of Social Work. “There are 2,600 members of the Georgia chapter of NASW, so this is quite humbling.”

The Frankie V. Adams Lifetime Achievement Award is designed to recognize a social worker who has consistently demonstrated outstanding achievements on behalf of clients and the profession of social work.

Vodde discovered the helping professions as a high school teacher, shortly after earning a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1968.

“I … found myself doing more informal therapy than teaching, so I was looking around at different options in terms of education,” he explained. “I decided to move to Georgia, and around the same time, I needed some help myself and was fortunate enough to get into counseling with an incredible clinical social worker. I think in some ways he helped save my life.

“Sometimes really good helpers become models.”

Vodde left teaching and went to work as a counselor at an Atlanta-based methadone clinic. He graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens with a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) in 1977, which he followed with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) nearly two decades later.

“I’m pretty sure I chose to get a … (Master of Social Work), rather than another type of professional helping degree, because of the help I received from a clinical social worker,” he shared.

As a social worker, Vodde worked extensively throughout the Atlanta area, particularly with troubled boys and men. He provided services to youths at a DeKalb County mental health center through individual, group, and family treatment, as well as the implementation of a summer day treatment program for severely disturbed adolescent males. He served as senior social worker at Georgia Regional Hospital: Atlanta. He was a consultant and group leader at Men Stopping Violence and Odyssey Family Counseling Center, where he worked with individual and groups of men who were violent with women and children. He briefly maintained a private practice, focusing on male clients who wanted to address various life-related issues not related to domestic violence. He worked as a psychiatric social worker at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Vodde joined the VSU family in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice. He was the first faculty member hired for a proposed Master of Social Work program that the university planned to start in September of 1995.

Vodde recalled saying to Dr. Louis H. Levy, who was head of the department at that time, and Dr. Pam Manley, sociology faculty member and one of a few social workers in the area with a doctorate, “I don’t think you’ll be able to do that in a year.” He said they responded with, “If you want this job, you’ll help us make that happen.”

Additional faculty members and a program director were hired. A self-study for the Council on Social Work Education was started. Syllabi were written. Students were admitted. Initial accreditation was achieved in the shortest possible time allowed. A small brick house on Georgia Avenue was selected as the newly formed program’s first home. Faculty offices, including Vodde’s, were scattered throughout, but due to insufficient space, classes were held in West Hall.

Originally formed under the umbrella of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Social Work later moved to the Regional Center for Continuing Education and then to a renovated warehouse on the university’s main campus known as Pine Hall. It was renamed the Department of Social Work during the 2013-2014 academic year, placed under the umbrella of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, and, due to unprecedented growth, relocated in the Health Sciences and Business Administration Building during the spring/summer of 2014.

“… the Department of Social Work is still going strong, and with the new leadership of  Dr. Mizanur Miah, we are hoping to grow even more,” he continued.

Vodde primarily teaches practice courses, which both encourages and allows him to remain active in the field of social work as a pro bono clinical supervisor for select VSU graduates and as an occasional agency consultant. He has never been one to attempt to teach and engage in direct practice simultaneously; he does not believe he has the stamina for such.

When he retires from the university at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, Vodde plans to return to the practice side of the profession. 

“When I first moved down here, the then-Department of Human Resources for the State of Georgia had downgraded just about all of its social work positions south of Macon because they couldn’t find Master of Social Work [degree holders] to fill those positions,” noted the recipient of VSU’s first Faculty Excellence in Professional Activities Award in 2004. “Now professional social work is a pervasive and fundamental presence in just about every human service organization in South Georgia. Our … (graduates) are community leaders, agency directors, and direct service providers. I see them every day.

“Nothing professionally makes me more proud.”

Contact Dr. Richard J. Vodde at (229) 245-4353 or to learn more.

On the Web:

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

Dr. Richard J. Vodde's commitment to the field of social work meets the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Goal 5: Develop and enhance Valdosta State’s human and physical resources.

Visit to learn more.