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American Humane Endowed Chair at the University of Denver to be filled by prominent researcher in the field

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dr. Frank Ascione to hold inaugural position in Graduate School of Social Work


A prominent 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). James Herbert Williams, dean of GSSW, appointed Frank R. Ascione, PhD, to the position, which is one of the first in the U.S.

Ascione is currently a professor in the Psychology Department at Utah State University in Logan, as well as an adjunct professor in Family and Human Development.  He is an internationally acclaimed researcher, lecturer and author in the field.

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 also 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,” says Williams. “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, Dr. 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.  He 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.

“American Humane is delighted with Dean Williams’ superb choice to inaugurate the American Humane Endowed Chair,” notes Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane.  “Dr. 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.”

Dr. Ascione has been a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Social work since December 2008. He will assume the new role at DU on Sept. 1.

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The University of Denver (, the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region, enrolls approximately 11,409 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Denver as a Research University with high research activity.

Contact:  Debbie Jones
Phone: (303) 871-3114


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