National Civic Leader Robert L. Woodson, Sr. to Be Awarded Honorary Doctorate from UC

Robert L. Woodson, Sr., founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Cincinnati Commencement Ceremony at

9 a.m., Saturday, June 9, at Fifth Third Arena.

The honorary degree represents the highest award from the university.

For more than four decades, Woodson has been internationally recognized for his innovations in reducing crime and poverty and bringing healing to communities. In the 1960s, he developed and coordinated national and local community development programs. In the 1970s, he directed the National Urban League’s Administration of Justice division.

In 1981, Woodson founded the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise to strengthen grassroots, neighborhood-based organizations and help them better serve their communities. The center has provided assistance to more than 2,600 community groups in 39 states. Results have included ending gang wars and paving the way for resident management and ownership of public housing.

A youth anti-violence program developed by Woodson, the Violence-Free Zone, is effectively reducing violence in 16 of the nation’s most troubled schools in cities such as Baltimore, Milwaukee and Richmond, Va.

Because of his achievements, Woodson is the only person ever to have received both the liberal and conservative world’s most prestigious awards – the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Prize, as well as the Presidential Citizens Medal. Among numerous other awards, Woodson also holds an honorary doctorate from Colorado Christian University.

“Robert Woodson believes that the best solutions come from those within the troubled neighborhoods,” says Dale Schaefer, a UC professor of environmental, biological and medical engineering. “He seeks out those who are already involved in the problems, helping them build their capacity and secure resources.

“As the nation grows weary of decades of ineffective ‘poverty programs,’ the imaginative ideas and proven successes of Robert Woodson’s Center for Neighborhood Enterprise are a welcome relief,” says Schaefer.

Woodson earned his GED in the U.S. Air Force after dropping out of high school, then went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Cheyney University and his master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He has authored numerous books and articles on reducing crime and healing communities and has been featured on national as well as international news programs.

UC Commencement Information