By Peggy Pico
The College of Health and Human Services and the School of Social work are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. Inger Davis, professor emeritus (1996) an influential pioneer in child welfare reform. Inger passed away on January 30, 2022, at the age of 95 from natural causes.
As a child living on her family’s farm in Denmark, Inger survived the German occupation in World War II and endured years of hunger. She vividly recalled hiding in the field watching Nazi bombers fly overhead—an experience that fueled her life-long dedication and pioneering work to improve the lives of neglected and abused children and foster care youth.
Dr. Davis held two Social Work Master’s degrees and taught in Copenhagen prior to earning her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Her training and early academic work were supported in part by international Fullbright and United Nations Fellowships. As a prolific scholar, world-renowned researcher, and respected professor at SDSU’s School of Social Work she was awarded numerous federal research and training grants.
“Inger had this need to help people and to show compassion. To bring people together and really focus on the most vulnerable in our society, to make sure that they were cared for. It was always about the kids—always about the families” said Dr. Alan Litrownik, SDSU professor emeritus of Psychology, a long-time friend and collaborator with Inger.
Inger was instrumental in developing a first-of-its-kind joint master’s degree program in social work and law in the School of Social Work. She was an early leader in interdisciplinary approaches—becoming one of the founding members of the San Diego Commission for Children and Families. And she established the Child and Adolescent Service Research Center (CASRC) which is a multi-institutional organization based at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. Prior to her retirement Inger established the Davis Research Fund in the 1980s and continued to support SDSU as a generous donor for more than 40 years.
Although she avoided the spotlight—Inger left a legacy of enduring impact in research, child and family wellbeing, child welfare policies and among her students and colleagues.
It was a joy working with Inger, she was intellectually curious and concerned about those in need—and was action-oriented. Though we will miss her, we can all be thankful that we benefited from knowing her Thank you, Inger, for sharing the same dream of a better world for all” said Dr. Litrownik. Inger was laid to rest in Denmark. Her death was proceeded by her husband, the late Kenneth Davis, an administrative legal scholar.