Dr. Donald Meeks, social work professor, dies at 92

“As a Black person, I’ve had an interest in equity and social justice all my life”

Dr. Donald Meeks

Dr. Donald Meeks, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, died at the West Park Long-Term Care Centre in Toronto on January 17 last. He was 92.

He was the first Black professor to attain the rank of full professor at U of T’s social work Faculty and founded and chaired the Faculty’s Anti-Racism, Multiculturalism and Native Issues (AMNI) Committee. He also served on U of T’s Race Relations Committee.

In 2006 he was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of his career as a social work professor, a groundbreaking and internationally renowned addictions expert, and a leader in human rights and race relations.

Dr. Meeks who grew up in Pennsylvania, received his Master of Social Work degree from Atlanta University and his PhD in Social Work from Smith College. 

Following his PhD, he accepted a cross-appointment at what was then the University of Toronto School of Social Work and the Addiction Research Foundation (ARF), now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

He was an early leader of the Caribbean Institute on Alcoholism and other Drug Disorders, a multi-year collaboration between CAMH, U of T’s social work Faculty and the University of West Indies.

He also served as a consultant for the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and numerous governments and NGOs in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. 

After his retirement in 1993, Dr. Meeks continued to consult on anti-racism and addictions. “As a Black person, I’ve had an interest in equity and social justice all my life,” he said.

He leaves his wife, Sherrill, daughters, Debbie Bragg, Heather (Drake Hirasawa), and Melanie (Mark Bould), four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, one great-great-granddaughter and an extended family.

A Memorial Service for the late Dr. Donald Meeks is being planned for the Spring.