Remembering Faculty Member Patricia Lager
Patricia (Pat) Brazil Lager served as a social work instructor for more than 20 years and was the founder of the International Programs at the College of Social Work at Florida State University. She passed away on October 14, 2023, but left an indelible legacy at the college and FSU that continues to impact social work students and graduates to this day.
She came to Florida State University in the 1960s, completing a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1967. She worked initially in psychiatric social work and mental health before focusing on the field of child welfare. She returned to Florida State to complete her Master of Social Work in 1983, continuing to work in child welfare and private practice. She became an adjunct professor at FSU in 1987 and would join full-time as a field instructor supporting students in their field placements at the [then] School of Social Work.
In the 1990s, Pat became interested in international studies, noticing an emerging emphasis on globalization and international awareness at universities. The FSU London Study Center opened in 1993 and the director of FSU International Programs at the time encouraged her to develop a study abroad experience for social work students.
“Pat created our International Programs from scratch to increase cross-cultural understanding for our students. She also recognized the importance of collaboration” expressed Dr. Neil Abell, Pat’s successor and current director of International Programs at the College of Social Work. “She used her experience as a child welfare practitioner to collaborate with partners abroad for study abroad experiences, but to construct and strengthen their services.”
FSU began offering an International Social Work experience that Pat pioneered through a continuing education course offered in the United Kingdom in London for practicing social workers. “Many of our students had never been out of the United States,” she noted in a 2018 feature article for the College of Social Work. “And many practicing social workers had also never been out of the country.”
By the late 1990s, she was able to expand on the continuing education course starting with field placement opportunities at a US Naval base in the United Kingdom so students could experience social work practice in an international setting.
As the College of Social Work continued to expand its program offerings with the Online MSW Program, Pat developed an online international social work course for students at both FSU and the University of the West Indies in Grenada in the East Caribbean. The course led to an exchange agreement between the academic institutions that has grown into a variety of exchange programs over the years in Australia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, and Sweden.
Pat would increase the continuing education opportunities across Europe and South Africa. She took great pride in providing unforgettable experiences for the social work students and professionals who participated in the international program experiences.
She continued to develop collaborative opportunities with international social service providers and pursue her professional growth by consulting, presenting, and offering trainings internationally.
Pat published extensively on international social work including the 2010 Guidebook for International Field Placements and Student Exchanges: Planning Implementation and Sustainability, published by the Council on Social Work Education and a chapter in the 2011 Handbook on International Social Work (Oxford Press), the first comprehensive assessment of the state of international social work practice.
She was recognized by the Council on Social Work Education for her contributions to international social work with the 2005 Outstanding Achievement Award and 2011 CSWE Partner in Excellence Award for Advancing International Social Work Education. Pat also received from the Florida International Volunteer Corps the 1999 Outstanding Achievement Award.
Dean Emeritus Nick Mazza, a long-time friend and colleague, praised Pat’s pioneering contribution to international social work and education. “She was loved and admired by her students, colleagues, and community extending worldwide,” Dr. Mazza remarked. “Pat was a model of integrity and commitment to making the world a better place to live.”
In 2011, she passed on the role of Director of International Programs to colleague Dr. Neil Abell. Even after her retirement, Pat continued to be a globetrotter and cheerleader of the College of Social Work’s International Programs, including facilitating the Robert P. Hurrle Scholarship Fund to support scholarships for social work students completing international field internships or studying abroad.
The College of Social Work honored Pat for her accomplishments, awarding her the Distinguished Emeritus Alumni Award in 2018.
To honor Pat’s legacy in International Programs, consider a donation to the Robert P. Hurrle Scholarship Fund (F05282) via the FSU Foundation:
- Donate online at give.fsu.edu/cswinternational
- Donate by mail to:
Robert P. Hurrle Scholarship Fund (F05282)
325 W. College Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32308