Chairman, Department of Social Work
Donoso Escobar traveled a long way to join RACU as the head of the Social Work Department in November of 2001. Born the son of a Baptist minister in Nicaragua, he sensed that God was also calling him to become a minister during his senior year in High School. This call led him to move to Costa Rica to attend an inter-denominational seminary where he washed dishes, did guard duty, and washed laundry and typed papers for others to support himself through school. One day while still at the seminary, Donoso and a team of his fellow seminary students went to the inner city to evangelize. While in the city, he encountered a number of people who asked him questions like “Can you help me find a job?” or “Can you help my son get off drugs?” One woman told him that she didn’t have any trouble believing that God loved her, but, as a prostitute, she was sure that the church would not accept her. His encounters that day had a profound impact on Donoso’s life, leading him to what he describes as a “second call,” a call to find a way to integrate his Christian beliefs with his burden for social justice. Ultimately, he decided that he needed to study Social Work as a complement to his theological education. After marrying his wife, Geannine, they left together for Arkansas, where Donoso completed a BA in Sociology and then an MSW (Master of Social Work).
After graduating with his MSW, Donoso worked in a number of different positions: leading a Spanish-speaking church in Little Rock, Arkansas; coordinating the response of the Southern Baptist Church to the influx of Cuban refugees; and working in the National Office of the Southern Baptist Convention to coordinate their office on immigration and refugees. Through all of these positions, he based his approach on the following belief: “The message of God must be tangible, visible, and audible. The message of God is not just uttered by a preacher – it must be lived out.” In the early 80s, Donoso was invited to help develop a new Masters program in Church Social Work at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky. For twelve years, he taught and helped to administer this program. While in Kentucky, he completed all the requirements for a Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, except for his dissertation.
Donoso left the seminary in 1995 and worked for a year at Mississippi College before once again returning to work at the National Office of the Southern Baptist Convention as the Associate Director of Church and Community Ministries. He is now in his second school year at RACU, and he is making an enormous difference in the organization of the Social Work Department. His gentle, intelligent leadership is a wonderful addition not just to the Social Work Department, but also to the university as a whole.