Livingstone professor presents paper at Oxford
By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
Dr. Timothy C. Okeke, chairman of the social work department at Livingstone College, presented a paper at the Oxford University Roundtable held at Lincoln College in Oxford March 27-April 1.
The theme of the Roundtable was “The Other People: Nationality, Religion and Immigration.” Okeke presented a paper titled “The Moral Obligation and Social Rationality of Government: U.S. Affordable Care Act of March 23, 2010.” Discussion of his paper was moderated by retired judge Bruce Einhorn of Pepperdine University School of Law.
Okeke also moderated discussion on a paper titled: “The Rights to Wear Religious Dress,” which was presented by Anthony Gray, associate professor and deputy head of law school, University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
Okeke said he was asked last July to submit a paper and was pleasantly surprised when his work was chosen for presentation.
“I tied my topic to the theme and I guess they thought my topic was good,” Okeke said. “I wanted to discuss how poor people in America are not being taken care of. We spent a lot of money on health care, but we still have people lagging behind, people without health insurance. America spends more money on health care than every other country, including Canada, Britain, China and France, but we’re still lagging behind in terms of taking care of our people.”
Okeke, a native Nigerian, has been in the United States since 1982 when he came as an exchange student. He studied at Elizabeth City State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science before earning a master’s degree in social work from Norfolk State University and a Ph.D. in social work from The Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago.
He said he chose the social work field because his passion is helping those less fortunate.
“My own upbringing had a lot to do with the fact that I chose social work because I grew up in a poor family,” Okeke said. “I know what it’s like to be poor.”
Nearly 30 scholars from all across the globe – representing numerous colleges and universities – presented papers at the Roundtable.
Participants were from Chicago State University, The John Marshall Law School, Pepperdine University School of Law, University of Colorado, Virginia Union University, Morehead State University, Claflin University, Florida State University, Everest University, City University of New York (CUNY), University of Central Florida, Lorain County Community College, Florida Memorial University, The University of Maryland at College Park, University of St. Thomas, Stony Brook University, Kennesaw State University, University of Houston, Andrews University, the University of Southern Queensland, Mt. San Antonio College, Bryan College,, Mercy College; Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria), Shawnee State University and Greater New Hope Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
“I met a lot of talented people,” Okeke said. “I was thankful to be invited to speak and to be able to represent Livingstone College. It was good exposure for the college, and it speaks to the quality of our faculty.”
Okeke has worked at Livingstone College for three and a half years and became chairman of the social work department after working at the school for a semester. He is also director of the college’s social work program and last year was awarded the PLCSW license from the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensing Board.
The license allows Okeke to practice clinical social work with children, adolescents, adults and families with mental health, alcohol and substance abuse and behavior disorders. He said he loves teaching but hopes to one day open his own practice.
Dr. Leroy Simmons, vice president of academic affairs, said Okeke is an outstanding faculty member.
“Dr. Okeke’s passion for social work is always apparent,” Simmons said. “He’s constantly thinking of ways to improve the social work department to ensure our students graduate ready to help the nation’s families cope with the myriad of problems social workers are trained to address. I was not at all surprised when he was asked to submit a paper to Oxford and subsequently chosen to present it. Dr. Okeke is an asset to Livingstone College, and we are proud of him.”
Okeke said he’d jump at the chance to present another paper in Oxford.
He was given a Certificate of Residence in Oxford, which named him as an Oxford Roundtable participant and said he was “entitled to all rights, privileges and emoluments thereto appertaining.” It hangs on his office wall.
“If they invite me back I’d go again,” Okeke said. “I think once you’re a fellow you’re always a fellow. It really was quite an experience. I was expecting fanciful buildings like here in America, but they have classical buildings because … I think they’re trying to preserve the facades. The buildings had gothic designs and were very beautiful. I had a wonderful time.”