Llewellyn “Lee” J. Cornelius has been named the Donald L. Hollowell Distinguished Professor of Social Justice and Civil Rights Studies at the UGA School of Social Work.
Among his responsibilities, Cornelius will serve as director of the Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights. As director, Cornelius will oversee an annual speaker series and collaborate with colleagues across disciplines to develop externally funded research to address persistent and emerging social problems. He also will teach courses focused on conducting community-based participatory research, health disparities, and human and civil rights.
“Dr. Cornelius is a distinguished scholar in both health policy and social justice, with a strong commitment to human and civil rights and translational research,” said Maurice Daniels, dean of the School of Social Work. “He has an exceptional teaching record with a capacity to teach across programs and a strong record in research, community service and practice. He is a leader in social work education and we are honored to have him join the School of Social Work and the Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights.”
Cornelius is one of the most-cited African-American scholars in social work. His book, Designing and Conducting Health Surveys: A Comprehensive Guide, has been cited more than 1,300 times since it was published in 2006. His research centers on creating and evaluating interventions to improve the health and well-being of under-resourced communities. He has been honored for his contributions to improving health care access for impoverished populations, even having a day named in his honor by both the mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois.
“This position is a natural extension of the work I have done in the community and academia my whole life,” Cornelius said. “I have always been passionate about equity and thinking strategically about the best way to use data and tools in advocacy to promote sustained social change for marginalized populations.”
Cornelius earned a doctorate at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, where he also earned two master’s degrees: one in social science with an emphasis in organizational behavior and one in social service administration with an emphasis in health policy and administration. He most recently served as a full professor with tenure at the University of Maryland at Baltimore, where he taught more than 2,200 graduate students in the second largest social work graduate program in the U.S. His academic experience also includes service as a visiting scholar at the University of Ghana and the University of Texas at Houston.
The Hollowell professorship honors the late civil rights leader and attorney, who was lead counsel in Holmes v. Danner. The landmark case secured admission in 1961 to UGA for the first African-American students. It is the first distinguished professorship at UGA named for an African-American.
Cornelius plans to expand the Hollowell legacy by bringing cross-generational audiences to community roundtable discussions on civil rights issues. In addition, he will foster sustainable development, social activism, academic-community partnerships and analytics that examine data on social justice.
“To achieve the transformation in society called for by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we need to systematically document both inequities as well as evaluate interventions and programs that are designed to reduce these inequities,” Cornelius said.