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Richard L. Edwards joined the Rutgers community in August 2005, when he assumed the position of dean of the School of Social Work. Since then, he has served as interim president of Rutgers University from July 1, 2012–August 31, 2012 and as Interim Chancellor–New Brunswick from 2012–2014. As a well-known scholar, educator, and administrator, he was appointed Chancellor of Rutgers–New Brunswick in 2014. Edwards also serves as executive vice president for academic affairs since September 21, 2012.
In a career spanning 40 years, Edwards has held deanships at Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he served as interim provost and where he recently was named Alumni Distinguished Professor of Social Work. He is a past president of the National Association of Social Workers and has written extensively and consulted widely on issues related to social work education and nonprofit and public management.
As a scholar, Edwards has studied the management and organizational effectiveness of public-sector and nonprofit organizations. He has been a visiting professor at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, and served as a consultant for the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute on the development of gerontology education for professionals in 18 central and eastern European countries. In 2008, Edwards spent several weeks at Ben Gurion University in Israel as a Fulbright Senior Specialist.
Edwards is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and served as editor-in-chief of the 19th edition of the Encyclopedia of Social Work, published in 1996. He serves on the editorial boards of several professional journals and served for several years as associate editor for North America for Social Work Education: The International Journal. He is currently the editor-in-chief of Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership and Governance, where under his leadership the journal has undergone strategic re-branding.
Edwards has been honored as a distinguished alumnus by the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, where he received his master's degree, and the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York at Albany, where he earned his doctorate. He holds a bachelor's degree from Augustana College in Illinois
As an administrator, Edwards has been an effective advocate and innovative leader for his institutions. Under his leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1992 to 2000, new doctoral and certificate programs were developed at the School of Social Work, while external funding for research, training, and technical assistance increased dramatically. Under his leadership at Rutgers over the past four years, Edwards led the development of a new Institute for Families and four new academic centers.