Academics and Research / Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Graduate School of Social Work names new dean

James Williams has been named the new dean of the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW). He starts his new job on June 15.

“DU’s Graduate School of Social Work is poised to make great strides in social work during the next decade,” says Provost Gregg Kvistad. “GSSW is in the top quarter of all accredited graduate social work programs and now it has an extraordinary new administrator and faculty member.”

Williams is currently foundation professor of youth and diversity at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work. From 1995–2006, he was a faculty member and administrator at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Most recently he served as E. Desmond Lee professor of racial and ethnic diversity, associate dean of the George Warren Brown School and assistant to the chancellor for Urban Community Initiatives.

After receiving his PhD from the University of Washington in Seattle, he began a prolific scholarly career that included funded research grants from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. departments of justice, education and health and human services, the Danforth Foundation and the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Disease.

His more than 40 academic publications focus on K-12 academic performance, substance abuse, race and gender differences, mental health service needs and black women’s health care.

Williams spent the early part of his professional career in Colorado as a social worker for the Colorado Department of Health. He said he looks forward to returning to the state and reengaging the community. The pillars of social work, he says, are research, scholarship, education and community service.

“I have a history in Colorado,” says Williams. “I look forward to building sustainable partnerships within the community [and] utilizing University of Denver intellectual capital to improve the quality of life for those in need.”

A diverse University search committee selected Williams after a nationwide search. He replaces Interim Dean Christian Molidor, who led GSSW for a year after Dean Catherine Alter resigned in 2005.

Alter led the school “extraordinarily well” for more than a decade, says Kvistad. During her tenure, GSSW, the oldest school of social work in the Rocky Mountain region, was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 social work programs in the country. Alter also oversaw the reconstruction of Craig Hall, which reopened in 2005 as one of the top research and education social work facilities in the nation.

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