Ben's Biography (1931 - 2015)
CSU Service 1992-2015
Director and Professor, School of Social Work, 1992-2002
Co-director, Human-Animal Bond in Colorado, 2003-2015
Ben Granger was one of six children of a Depression-era Congregationalist minister. He was born in Mexico, while his parents were missionaries, and grew up moving from town to town as his father ministered to the needs of crop-workers of North-Central California. He was educated at Whittier College, served in the Army during the Korean War and completed his education with a master’s degrees from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. While at Whittier College, he played football for eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame coach George Allen.
Family and Early Work History
Prior to moving to Colorado State, Granger was the associate dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Kentucky and then, in 1973, began a 19-year tenure as dean of the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee. In 1978, he was named Dean of the Year by the UT Commission for Blacks because of his efforts to recruit and retain African American students, faculty, and administrators, and for initiating opportunity programs. Under his leadership, the college started both the doctoral and Bachelor of Science in Social Work programs. The doctoral program was approved by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in 1982 and began accepting students in the fall of 1983. The undergraduate social work program was accredited in 1982 and became a Bachelor of Science in Social Work program under the college in 1985.
Ben met and married Georgia Brown at Whittier College. For more than thirty years of their six-decade marriage, they blended their personal and professional lives. At Tennessee, Georgia Granger developed and built Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT), a sprawling organization through which certified animal-assisted therapy dogs worked with professional therapists on treatment protocols that addressed challenges as varied as head trauma, elder issues, and autism. When they moved to Colorado, Georgia created Human Animal Bond in Colorado (HABIC) and Ben eventually became its co-director.
Ben and Georgia have three children and eight grandchildren.
Ben’s career was devoted to advocating for disadvantaged and disenfranchised members of society, as well as educating multiple generations of social welfare professionals. As a young man he pioneered the concept of residential group homes for mentally handicapped adults. He worked in the youth prison system in California and was associate director of the San Diego Children’s Home. Until his death in 2015, he worked as an advocate for young offenders at Platte Valley Youth Correctional Facility.
CSU Work History
Ben joined the School of Social Work in 1992 as the Director. He was known by his colleagues as a compassionate and patient leader. Ben retired in 2002, but remained connected with the School and College through HABIC. In operation nearly 25 years, HABIC is run under the umbrella of the College of Health and Human Sciences and currently has more than 150 trained and supervised human-animal teams volunteering in 50 separate HABIC community programs, serving more than 800 clients weekly.
Ben had an interesting and wide-ranging athletic career. He ran 15 marathons, including two Boston Marathons. Once he stopped running, he was an avid tennis player who was scheduled to play in the USTA super senior nationals in March 2014. He and Georgia won their division of HABIC’s annual Diggin’ Doubles tournament in 2014. And he celebrated his 80th birthday by water-skiing on Norris Lake in east Tennessee.
At the 2007 College of Applied Human Sciences Homecoming Breakfast, Georgia gave an informative and inspiring talk about her work with HABIC. The presentation was followed by a surprise announcement that Ben, along with the couple’s children, had established the Georgia V. Granger HABIC Endowment with a generous gift to bring the current endowment total to $135,000. Ben also supported Social Work students with the Ben Granger Distance Education Scholarship for more than ten years.
Ben continued to stay active at CSU as the co-director of the HABIC program until his passing in January, 2015. He was honored at the Colorado State Capitol by State Senator John Kefalas on February 11, 2015 for his leadership in social work and HABIC.