Skip to main content

Associate Dean Travis Albritton receives 2023 Hortense K. McClinton Outstanding Faculty Staff Award 

by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work had multiple reasons to celebrate on Thursday, Nov. 9. 

Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Travis Albritton was honored with the Hortense K. McClinton Outstanding Faculty Staff Award at the 2023 Black Alumni Reunion Light on the Hill Society Awards Gala, while master’s of social work student Beatrice Parker ’25 was named the inaugural High Graduate Scholar, a $3,000 scholarship awarded to first-year students. 

“It is so fitting that Dr. Albritton would be selected as the Hortense McClinton Faculty award recipient,” said Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson. “Like Professor McClinton, he embodies integrity, strength, and wisdom. He is the type of faculty that trailblazers such as Professor McClinton envisioned for the future of our great profession.”I am so thrilled to see Beatrice Parker recognized in this way. From the first day that I met her, I knew she was someone special. When I think about Beatrice, I know that she will continue to lead and impact so many in meaningful ways and in a transformational manner.”

Albritton previously received the UNC School of Social Work’s Excellence in Teaching Award and is a two-time recipient of the School’s Excellence in MSW Advising Award. In addition to his work as associate dean, Albritton is the director of the Chapel Hill 3-Year MSW Program.

McClinton, the first Black faculty member at UNC, joined the School in 1966. A graduate of Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her MSW, McClinton’s legacy in social work still resonates to this day for the emphasis she put on supporting students and faculty of color and the leadership she displayed in blazing a path for generations of underrepresented populations. 

McClinton’s passion for social work predated her arrival at the school — she used her expertise to become the first Black social work practitioner for the Durham County Department of Social Services at the Veterans Administration hospital.  

McClinton was a member of at least 11 campus committees at UNC, including the Committee on the Status of Women, Carolina Association of Disabled Students, and the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Minorities and the Disadvantaged. She began teaching a course on institutional racism in 1972.

Even after retiring from her post, McClinton’s legacy remained. Professor Emerita Iris Carlton-LaNey said McClinton frequently visited her classes to share her experiences, including her upbringing in Boley, Okla., where her father founded the Boley First National Bank

The School honored McClinton for her work with a celebration in May 2022, when it unveiled the Hortense McClinton Legacy Scholarship for first generation graduate students who embody McClinton’s inspiring spirit. One year before that, McClinton received the 2021 Faculty Service Award from the UNC General Alumni Association Board of Directors. Those who walk through campus can also find the Hortense McClinton Residence Hall on Country Club Road, which was named in honor of McClinton in 2022. The residence hall was previously named after Charles Brantley Aycock, a former North Carolina governor who was a prominent figure in the 1898 Wilmington Massacre.  

Albritton is the ninth recipient of the Hortense K. McClinton Outstanding Faculty Staff Award — it was renamed after McClinton in 2013 — an honor he received for his work in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion at the School and helping to pave the way for future social workers.  

“It’s an honor,” Albritton said. “It’s very humbling to walk in the footsteps of a trailblazer and for her also to be the first Black faculty member at UNC and she was a faculty member in the School of Social Work. It’s a deep honor to be recognized in this way.” 

A graduate of Elizabeth City State University, Albritton received his master’s degree in social work from UNC in 2003 and returned to the School as a faculty member in 2008. Since that time, he’s received countless awards, fostered relationships with individuals across the UNC community and become a leading figure in the fight for equity. 

Yet it’s the work he’s done in guiding and supporting his students and fellow faculty members that connects him to McClinton as much as anything else. 

“I’m really, really grateful,” Albritton said. “While I’m the honoree, I want to name that I’ve had a lot of really wonderful students. I wouldn’t be here unless they afforded me the opportunity to be able to teach them and to help educate them every year and (I want) to (name) the faculty folks. It takes a team to get an award like this. While it’s an individual recognition, I couldn’t have done it without the folks at the School of Social Work.” 

If you are interested in donating to the McClinton Legacy Scholarship Fund, click here