Harold A. Richman, Chapin Hall Founding Director, 1937-2009
Chapin Hall honors the life and career of Harold Richman, founding director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. He was a valued colleague, mentor, and friend, who dedicated his life to improving the lives of children, families, and communities, and inspired countless others to do the same.
To commemorate him, the Harold A. Richman Fund has been established to perpetuate his legacy of innovative thinking and creative research activities that improve the lives of children and the well-being of their families and communities.
In 1985, Harold led the board of Chapin Hall for Children, a residential home with a 120-year history of direct service to children, to redefine the purpose of its endowment and become Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, with a mission to serve children and youth by conducting research that informs child policy and practice.
By partnering with an array of local, state, and federal agencies as well as foundations and nonprofit groups, the newly conceived Chapin Hall pioneered strategies for collecting, linking, and analyzing agency data, and developed analytic tools and systems for monitoring child and youth outcomes. Chapin Hall’s work soon expanded beyond this focus to shape the thinking and build knowledge about other critical systems and influences on children, such as their communities, their out-of-school-time activities, and other contributors to their development. Chapin Hall’s work included engaging policymakers and practitioners to improve society’s responses to the needs of vulnerable children and families. Harold also led work at Chapin Hall to document and evaluate community-building initiatives and the role philanthropy played in those efforts. Chapin Hall also expanded in other ways, rapidly moving beyond its initial local focus on Chicago and Illinois to develop a national and international presence. During Harold’s tenure as director, Chapin Hall grew from five researchers to a staff of more than one hundred, who continue his work of informing child-family policies and programs both nationally and internationally.
Harold stepped down as director of Chapin Hall in 2001, but continued his work here as a research fellow, advising on research and programs in the U.S., South Africa, Ireland, and the Middle East.
In 2008, Chapin Hall established the Harold A. Richman Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, as a tribute to his gift for inspiring and guiding scholarship that betters the lives of vulnerable children and families.
“Harold had an early and innovative grasp of the kind of research that was needed to create sound children’s policy,” said Matthew Stagner, executive director of Chapin Hall. “He understood how to work with government and foundations, how to break down barriers among categorical services, and how to see the needs of children and families in a broader, more holistic context. Though he often focused on children in need, he was also passionate about how policy should support all families and children. Those of us who worked closely with Harold over the nearly 25 years of Chapin Hall's history know how his spirit and intelligence inspired the work and the values of the institution. He was an exceptional colleague, mentor, and friend, and will be deeply missed.”
Harold’s contribution to changing social policy is immeasurable, with a career spanning academia, government, and nonprofit organizations. He was a White House Fellow and special assistant to the Secretary of Labor from 1965 to 1967. In 1969, as a young academic, he was appointed Dean of the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) at the University of Chicago, where, as the Hermon Dunlap Smith Professor of Social Welfare Policy, he was the youngest named professor on the faculty. He served as the dean of SSA until 1978.
While Dean of SSA, Harold secured a Consolidated Grant from the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW). The grant was part of a HEW experiment to streamline government by moving away from categorical funding for specific services to a consolidation of all services within one grant. This grant was renewed annually, permitting him to expand SSA’s curriculum and offer more student aid, fostering diversity. He was also a member of President Carter’s Commission on Mental Health from 1977 to 1978.
Under Harold’s leadership, a Committee on Public Policy Studies was created at the University of Chicago, for which he was the founding chair. In 1974, the Committee began granting graduate degrees, and was transformed in 1989 to become the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies, one of six professional graduate schools at the University of Chicago.
He served on a multitude of boards nationally and locally looking at issues of child welfare and served as co-chair of the Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives for Children and Families of the National Academies from 1992 to 1994. He was chairman of the Governor's Special Task Force on Youth Policy in Illinois from 1980 to 1981. He served on many boards, commissions, and panels in both the public and private sectors, and was the author of numerous publications in the field of child and family policy.
Harold was cochair of the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Comprehensive Community Initiatives; chair of the board of the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C.; chair of the board of the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town in South Africa; and a member of the boards of the Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, the John Gardner Center for Youth and Community at Stanford University, and the Michael Reese Health Trust in Chicago.
He was the recipient of the 2009 John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award, and will be honored for his lifetime accomplishments during the White House Fellows Annual Meeting and Seminar in Washington, D.C. in October.
Additional tributes to Harold may be found at A Celebration of the Life of Harold Richman.