Dr. Victoria Efferson Warner
Dr. Victoria Efferson Warner, a retired Florida A&M University professor and founder of the Department of Social Work, passed away over the summer of 2006 after a short illness. Dr. Warner was born and practically raised on the campus of Florida A&M. She lived the life of a social worker; she was a friend to those in need and cherished the opportunities to be of service to others. She was not only a professor, but also a counselor to hundreds of students at Florida A &M University. She has touched the lives of many students and faculty members who have been privileged to be in her presence and has played a key role in shaping them into the professionals they have grown to be.
“ Dr. Warner was an amazing educator and mentor” Dr Hych-Jacskson said, a faculty member and former student of Dr. Warner. “She was a strong vibrate woman, whose presence was felt by anyone who she came into contact with her, whether it was direct or indirect; everyone knew who she was...She was very special to me; she influenced me to become a social worker. Therefore, she guided me in that direction.”
“ I met Dr. Warner at Career Day at my high school,” Dr. Harris said, a Social Work professor at the University of Washington and a former student of Dr.Warner. “It was very interesting that I met Dr. Warner because there was no question about me going to college. I just didn’t know what career path I was going to take. My father told me I had to become a teacher, nurse, or social worker. I didn’t want to become a teacher and I certainly didn’t want to become a nurse, and to be honest, I didn’t know what a social worker was. At Career Day, Dr. Warner talked about the social work profession and I decided I was going to attend Florida A&M University and become a social worker.
After graduating from Florida A&M University, and Atlanta University School of Social Work, Dr. Warner was hired in1950 to teach the first social work course ever offered at FAMU. Along with social work courses, she taught required Sociology courses. “As a teacher, she made the classroom come alive and with her skills and knowledge, she helped us visualize what the real world was like. She gave us understanding,” says Dr. Hyche- Jackson. “From Dr. Warner, I learned how to be a professional,” says Dr. Harris. “I learned different types of practice situations and populations that one could work with in social work.” “Dr. Warner taught me patience, understanding, and tolerance of other people,” says La Lisa Shudder, a Correctional Officer in New York, who is a former social work student. "She was always being helpful and never saying no, she wanted us to be over achievers.”
Dr. Warner successfully petitioned the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to recognize the undergraduate social work program at FAMU. Therefore, a Bachelor’s degree in social work was first offered in 1997 under the outstanding leadership of Dr. Victoria Warner. Dr. Warner then became the director of the program in social work and then chair of the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Social Work, and finally chair of the Department of Social Work. Under her direction, the program achieved departmental status in the FY 1990-91 academic year. She then envisioned a master’s degree in social work at Florida A&M University and took steps within the University and CSWE to make her dream a reality. “Social work was her brainchild,” says Dr. Hyche-Jackson, “It was her hard work and determination that made this happen.” In the year of 1997, when she retired, Dr. Warner accomplished her goal and the MSW program was established in the 1997-98 academic year. The MSW program prepares students to solve human, organizational, policy and social problems, particularly those affecting improvised and historically oppressed communities.
Not only did Dr. Warner touch the lives of her students but also the lives of her co-workers. “She was an individual that was always helping students, I've seen her many times write a check because a student needed books or needed some kind of financial help,” says Mary Howard, office manager for the department of Social Work, who was Dr. Warner’s office manager in the late 80’s. “She was just a very caring compassionate true social worker and a very laid back and soft spoken person; Dr. Warner taught me a lot about history and how to keep track of files that contained history. I still have addresses of social work graduates from 1979 to present”, says Howard. “One a more personal note, Dr. Warner was like a second mother to me.”
“As I worked on my Doctorate at Florida State, I didn’t want to just go to school, I needed a job, even though I was funded by the McKnight program someone suggested that I go and talk to Dr. Warner who was the chair of the department of social work”, Dr. Brenda Jarmon commented. “When I first met her, I found her to be a warm intriguing person who was very open” says Dr. Jarmon. “By the fall of 87, I was an adjunct professor under Dr. Warner and I learned so much from her, different teaching techniques, working with students and how to advise them,” says Jarmon. “Her tenacity about life, and her never give up attitude were things that stood out the most about Dr. Warner, she was very much involved with the department and professionalizing statues of social work programs around the country.” “The things she believed in she fought hard for them.”
For those who did not have the opportunity to meet Dr. Victoria Efferson Warner, here are some things her former students and co- workers wanted you to know:
“She is a major icon in our profession,” says Jarmon.
“An amazing educator and mentor,” says Hyche-Jackson.
“She was the Ultimate social worker,” says Dr. Harris.
“She was the best! It’s sad that some people didn’t to know her,” says Shrudder.
“She was a very laid-back person,” says Howard.
Dr. Victoria Warner was truly an inspiration to all.
Rona Thompson, M.S.W.