Howard D. Arnold, Sr., associate professor emeritus and former associate dean in the School of Social Policy & Practice, passed away March 3 at age 79.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Professor Arnold earned a bachelor’s of arts degree in sociology and psychology from Penn State University in 1956 and a master’s degree from the Penn’s School of Social Work in 1963.
Professor Arnold’s early career encompassed 12 years of service with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare where he spearheaded innovative programming aimed at eradicating urban poverty, including “Operation Alphabet.” Similarly, he devoted his evenings to the United Neighbors Association of South Philadelphia, working directly with gang members to improve their lives. He also worked for the Philadelphia Crime Prevention Association before coming to Penn.
Professor Arnold began teaching in Penn’s School of Social Work in 1969 as a lecturer; he was appointed assistant professor in 1970 and in 1972, became their first African-American tenured professor. He served three terms as associate dean before retiring in 2000.
In addition to teaching, Professor Arnold helped establish the Du Bois College House and served as its first faculty master (1974-1977 and 1980-1981). He was also a member of the Senate Executive Committee and held numerous committee and task force roles at the University and School level, including past chair of the University’s Affirmative Action Council. He lead the Office of Affirmative Action (OAA) from 1996-1997.
Professor Arnold was a co-founder of the Black Faculty and Administrators (later known as AAA). AAA was one of the powerful voices that saw a need and helped establish the African-American Resource Center (AARC). “He was a steady, wise leader, who had a quiet, gentle yet powerful way of commanding respect, teaching, mentoring and helping others to reach their goals,” said Valerie Dorsey Allen, director of AARC.
Among his many accomplishments, Professor Arnold led the way in developing a curriculum that reflected more broadly the issues of poverty, racism and cultural differences.
Professor Arnold is survived by his, wife Gudrun; son, Howard, Jr.; daughter, Jeanne Arnold, SW’80, GRD’06, AARC’s former director and OAA former executive director; step-children, Usha and Christopher Tandon; grandchildren, Regis and Kellen Mann, Nolan Arnold and Alex, Cassandra and Kit Wheeldon; and brothers, Charles and James.
Contributions may be made to Penn Memory Center. Attn: Barbara Overholser, 3615 Chestnut St., rm. 236, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Make checks payable to Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and write “ADC-PMC” on the memo line.