Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Researcher fills inaugural position at GSSW

A professor and researcher in the field of the human-animal bond will fill the first American Humane Endowed Chair at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW).

GSSW Dean James Herbert Williams appointed Frank Ascione to the position, which is one of the first in the U.S.

Ascione currently is a professor in the psychology department at Utah State University in Logan, as well as an adjunct professor in family and human development, and has been a visiting GSSW professor since December 2008. He is an internationally acclaimed researcher, lecturer and author in the field. He will assume the new role at DU on Sept. 1.

The Denver-based American Humane Association and DU established the $2 million American Humane Endowed Chair last year. It will explore the expanding field of animal-assisted interventions and research the bond between humans and animals. Earlier, American Humane and the Animal Assistance Foundation provided the seed money to establish GSSW’s Institute for Human-Animal Connection.

“Dr. Ascione is the perfect scholar to lead the kind of rigorous research this endowment will allow,” Williams says. “American Humane and DU have forged a dynamic partnership to advance research nationally into the human-animal bond.”

A member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research on Child Development, Ascione serves as an adjunct faculty member with American Humane, the 131-year-old national nonprofit whose mission is the protection of both children and animals. He also serves on the Child and Animal Abuse Prevention Advisory Council of the Latham Foundation, is past president of the Southwestern Society for Research in Human Development and is a member of the cadre of experts for the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family.

“Ascione has dedicated his professional career to advancing this crucial area of research, and he will contribute significantly to the further development of knowledge dealing with animal-assisted social work and the human-animal bond,” says Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane.

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