Alumna and Social Work Pioneer Dr. Martha Ozawa Leaves $6.5 Million Estate Gift to the UW-Madison School of Social Work

Dr. Martha Ozawa

Social Work Scholarships Get Major Boost

Prospective graduate students in the UW-Madison School of Social Work have more opportunities for funding than ever before thanks to a major gift from one of the school’s first PhD graduates.

Dr. Martha Ozawa, who received a master’s degree in 1966 and PhD in 1969 from the School of Social Work, left nearly $6.5 million to be used entirely for social work graduate student scholarships. Dr. Ozawa passed away in 2016 after an illustrious career. Thanks to her significant gift, students who did not think it was financially viable to earn a master’s in social work, can now consider it possible.

Stephanie Robert, PhD, Director of the School of Social Work explains: “Some of our most talented applicants and potential applicants have been choosing not to pursue a master’s social work degree with us because of lack of funding. Professor Ozawa wanted her gift to bring highly talented people into social work, and we are grateful for this opportunity to make her wish a reality.”

With this gift alone, the school hopes to award 12-15 students pursuing a master’s degree full tuition scholarships each year.

Dr. Ozawa spent most of her four-decade long career on faculty at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis where she studied income security, health, long-term care, and American public-assistance programs, such as Social Security and Medicaid. Born in Japan, Dr. Ozawa earned a degree in economics from Aoyama Gakuin University in 1956 before coming to the U.S. to study at UW-Madison. She authored more than 150 peer-reviewed articles, 28 book chapters, and three books, including Women’s Life Cycle and Economic Security: Problems and Proposals. She held the first endowed chair at the Brown School and received several prestigious awards throughout her career. She retired in 2013. That same year, the UW-Madison School of Social Work recognized her with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

In the past two years, UW-Madison’s School of Social Work has received a large boost in scholarships for graduate students thanks to the philanthropic commitment by alumni and friends. Last year, as a result of a $5 million gift to the School of Social Work from Joel Berman, the first cohort of UW-Madison social work students received the Harriet and Sandra Rosenbaum Scholarship. This scholarship, in memory of Joel Berman’s wife and mother-in-law (both alumna from UW-Madison), targets incoming MSW students with financial need and great promise as social workers and provides full-tuition, fees, and stipends. Last year, five students received the Harriet and Sandra Rosenbaum Scholarship and this coming year 10 students will receive the scholarship.

The establishment of the Martha Ozawa Scholarship combined with the Harriet and Sandra Rosenbaum Scholarship means the School of Social Work can offer full support to more prospective students than ever before. Additionally, the school now gives out more than 40 other scholarships and awards to students every year.

Professor Robert says, “Our whole society benefits when we can attract and train strong social workers with the passion and skills to address our society’s most challenging social justice issues. We are so grateful to our alumni and other donors who recognize the importance of this work.”

Information about applying to the School of Social Work is available here.