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SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Barbara Solomon, Vice Provost Emeritus & Community Leader

by Justine Saquilayan

In honor of Black History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Dr. Barbara Solomon, Vice Provost Emeritus and former Dean of the Graduate School.

Throughout USC’s history, few individuals have had as significant an impact as Dr. Barbara Solomon, Vice Provost Emeritus for Graduate and Professional Studies and former Dean of the USC Graduate School. Over the course of more than fifty years, Dr. Solomon has been an inspirational figure in academia and professional practice.

Barbara Solomon_9-20-93Described by USC News as “the conscience of USC,” Solomon’s hands-on approach and dedication to the field of social work led to significant developments within the university. A prolific author, she also published several works on social service delivery systems as they relate to underrepresented populations.

When the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference named Solomon the recipient of the Rosa Parks Award in 1998, USC President Steven B. Sample was quoted as saying:

“Her capacity to think and teach creatively about society’s needs and to involve the university
with the community that surrounds it is unparalleled. Her example inspires faculty, staff
and the legions of social workers she has influenced as a teacher, writer, researcher and

In addition to serving as USC’s first African-American dean, Dr. Solomon held many other posts within the university. In 1993, she was appointed Vice Provost for Minority Affairs. The next year, she was named Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, where she led the effort to recruit and retain minority faculty members. She also served as a professor in the School of Social Work.

Dr. Solomon has been recognized for her work by organizations such as the American Association of Higher Education and the National Association of Social Workers. In 1999, the university awarded her the Presidential Medallion, which is the highest honor bestowed by USC.