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UW-Eau Claire Professor's Legacy Lives on
through Lecture, Award Given in His Honor

RELEASED: April 20, 2009

Dr. Leondard Gibbs
Dr. Leonard Gibbs

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Leonard Gibbs, an emeritus professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire who retired in 2005 and passed away in June 2008 after a three-year battle with metastatic prostate cancer, is still being honored for his contributions to the field of social work and related human service areas.

An internationally recognized leader in the evidence-based practice movement, Gibbs will be honored in April with a lecture in his memory at his alma mater, UW-Madison, and in May the Campbell Collaboration Social Welfare Coordinating Group will present the first Leonard E. Gibbs Award during the Campbell Collaboration Colloquium, "Better Evidence for a Better World," May 18-20 in Oslo, Norway.

The UW-Madison lecture, "Evidence-Informed Practice: Antidote to Propaganda in the Helping Professions," will be presented from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 23 in the Waisman Center Auditorium. The speaker will be Dr. Eileen Gambrill, Hutto Patterson professor of child and family studies in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Another leader in the area of evidence-based practice, Gambrill was a friend of Gibbs who co-authored with him several articles and one book: "Critical Thinking for Helping Professionals: A Skills-Based Workbook." The third edition of that book was recently released by Oxford University Press.

Jan Greenberg, professor and director of the UW-Madison School of Social Work, said a number of people at UW-Madison, where Gibbs earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, followed Gibbs' career over the years and were very proud of the significant contributions he made in the area of evidence-based practice.

"He was an acknowledged leader in the field," Greenberg said. "Those of us who knew Len personally valued his dedication to his students, his high ethical standards, and of course, his folksy, down-home sense of humor."

Betsy McDougall-Gibbs, widow of Leonard Gibbs, will attend the lecture in Madison, but she said family concerns will keep her from making it to Oslo this year.

"It will be an annual award," she said. "So I hope I can attend the award ceremony in the future when I have more time to do some touring and see more of Norway."

The Campbell Collaboration (C2) is an international research network that helps people make well-informed decisions by preparing, maintaining and disseminating systematic reviews of the effects of social interventions in education, crime and justice, and social welfare. Campbell's International Secretariat is located in Oslo and hosted by the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services.

Systematic reviews are syntheses of many research studies, often referred to as meta-analyses. The Leonard E. Gibbs Award, created to encourage the production of rigorous systematic reviews that can inform social welfare policy and practice, will be given annually to the authors of a completed Campbell systematic review that contributes to evidence-based practice in social welfare.

The winner of the first Leonard E. Gibbs Award for the finest systematic review published in 2007-08 is Campbell's 50th published review, "Kinship Care for the Safety, Permanency, and Well-being of Children Removed from the Home for Maltreatment." The review authors are Marc Winokur and Deborah Valentine, Social Work Research Center, School of Social Work, Colorado State University in Fort Collins; and Amy Holtan, department of clinical medicine, Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Tromsø, Norway. The review is available free from C2's online library at.

"Leonard Gibbs was an inspirational leader," said C2's Social Welfare Group editor Julia Littell. "I think he would have been very impressed with the kinship care review because it addresses an important topic in the care of children who have been abused or neglected."

An example of Gibbs' dedication to teaching EBP to students can be read online. Another Web site provides an overview of how he used his knowledge and time in the last years of his life to help others dealing with prostate cancer and other illnesses.

Betsy McDougall-Gibbs, who retired from her job as an early childhood special education program support teacher in December 2006 to spend more time with her husband, assisted him in developing the Web site to help others dealing with health crises. She is currently enrolled in an independent study at UW-Eau Claire focusing on evidence-based practice in the early childhood field.

"I am reading more about Len's work in conjunction with the class," said McDougall-Gibbs, who added that she is happy to continue working with a subject about which her husband was so passionate.

Before Gibbs died, he and Betsy established the Leonard E. Gibbs Scientific Reasoning Fund to award two scholarships annually to students who best demonstrate understanding of how to apply research concepts to making better judgments and decisions in practice. Donations to the fund can be made through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, 214 Schofield Hall at UW-Eau Claire.



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