Héctor Luis Díaz, director of the School of Social Work at New Mexico State University, has received one of the highest awards bestowed to alumni from Case Western Reserve University.
Díaz, who joined NMSU’s School of Social Work in 2020, was one of several CWRU alumni honored last month by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. Díaz, whose career in social work spans more than four decades, received the Professional Achievement Award.
“I am grateful to my alma mater for this award. It has been a fulfilling journey since I joined Case Western Reserve University as a graduate student in 1979,” Díaz said. “I am also grateful to NMSU’s administration, my faculty and staff colleagues, and our students who continue to motivate me to excel.”
Díaz, a native of Puerto Rico, moved to the United States mainland in 1979 and spent several years in Cleveland working on a master’s degree in social work from CWRU. He later earned a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago after a 15-year stint as a social work practitioner, supervisor and administrator.
Díaz entered academia in 1992 and has served as a faculty member, administrator, researcher and practitioner across various academic-community settings. As an administrator, he has led multiple accreditation efforts, launched new programs, and served on several regional and national boards and panels to advance social work practice and education.
He also previously served as the president and secretary of the Texas Association of Social Work Deans and Directors, chair of the University of Texas-Pan American Council of Department Chairs, and treasurer of the Association of Latina and Latino Social Work Educators.
“Dr. Díaz is what we call a triple-threat in the field of social work and public health. He is a prolific scholar, passionate educator and a fearless advocate for the most disadvantaged. This award is a fitting testimony of his work at NMSU and beyond,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of public health who has collaborated with Díaz.
At NMSU, Díaz leads the School of Social Work in the College of Health, Education and Social Transformation. The school offers bachelor’s and master’s programs to prepare students for ethical and evidence-informed professional social work practice and has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education for more than 30 years.
“We’re guided by the principles of perspective, empowerment, cultural competence, and social and economic justice,” he said.
On top his administrative duties, Díaz continues to work with NMSU faculty and students on current social work and public health issues.
“Our country is facing very challenging times, and members of our community are experiencing a lot of distress and trauma,” he said. “I remain committed to promoting social welfare.”