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“Richard Caputo’s book captures the highs and lows of academic life as he describes in engaging detail his journey from professional social worker in the mental health field to highly respected, well-published social work academic. To anyone embarking on an academic career in social work, or a practitioner who seeks a deeper understanding of the traditional conflicts—and complements—of academic research and professional practice in the field of social work, this book is an essential read.”

—Lynn H. Vogel, former faculty member, social welfare policy,

School of Social Service Administration, the University of Chicago



“In this engaging, frank and detailed memoir, Professor Caputo provides an account of a life well-lived, as a social worker, scholar, and believer in social justice. It runs on parallel tracks, from how one develops and grows an intellectual identity over the long arc of a career, to the less lofty but no less interesting account of the day-to-day life of a practitioner and a scholar. Professor Caputo’s willingness to reveal the best and worst of both will satisfy many a reader’s curiosity about what such a life entails.”

—Vicki Lens, professor, Hunter College, Silberman School of Social Work


“Richard Caputo’s memoir is an insightful, self-effacing examination of the challenges faced by today’s scholars of social welfare, particularly those who attempt to integrate a commitment to social justice into all aspects of their work.  It will inspire personal reflection by both senior and junior faculty colleagues and provide doctoral students with much food for thought as they contemplate their future careers.”

-Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice,

School of Social Work. University of Maryland


“In this autobiography, Richard Caputo reflects on his intellectual journey – a journey strongly shaped by values of intellectual curiosity, intellectual rigor and engaged scholarship instilled at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.  His reflections reveal a social work scholar who thinks deeply and writes carefully about the role of values in social work and social welfare and whose career-course is one of an academic of great honesty and deep integrity. Professor Caputo’s reflections hold important lessons for social work scholars, practitioners and policy makers and for the institutions we seek to influence.”

-Jeanne C. Marsh, George Herbert Jones Distinguished Service Professor,

School of Social Service Administration, the University of Chicago


Richard K. Caputo, an under-the-radar social work scholar, shares lessons about finding his voice as a scholar, overcoming obstacles, and navigating the rigors and expectations of academia in this memoir.


From his days as an undergraduate to a graduate student; from being a paraprofessional at Arizona State Hospital and Division of Behavioral Health Services to a professional social worker at a family service agency then known as United Charities of Chicago; and from an agency-based professional to an academic, he reveals the trials, tribulations, and tradeoffs that went with each transition.


He also pays homage to the mentors that helped him succeed in his various roles, including being a junior faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, a continuing contract faculty member at the Barry University School of Social Work, and finally as a tenured faculty member at the Yeshiva University Wurzweiler School of Social Work.


Join the author as he chronicles his journey navigating the political and social environment from the 1960s through the 2010s and juggling the demands of university life in Connecting the Dots.