Dean of School of Social Welfare announces plan to step down next year

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After seven years as dean of the campus School of Social Welfare, Jeffrey Edleson announced last week that he will step down after this academic year.

In the statement, which can be found on the School of Social Welfare’s website, Edleson said it’s time for the school to welcome “fresh leadership.” Edleson said he plans to finish the 2018-19 academic year as dean and will take a one-year sabbatical in the fall. He will then return to campus for one year to continue his teaching and his research on gender-based violence.

“I just thought it was a great time for the university to recruit a new dean,” Edleson said.

Campus spokesperson Michael Dirda said the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost will announce a call for nominations for the position later this fall.

Edleson began his work in social welfare almost 45 years ago as an undergraduate research assistant to Eileen Gambrill, who is now a graduate professor at the School of Social Welfare. After Edleson’s time on campus, he worked for 29 years at the University of Minnesota, where he was involved in research on social welfare and, according to Gambrill, became “one of the world’s top scholars in the world of domestic violence.”

“I hired him as my assistant 45 years ago. He got interested in social welfare because of me,” Gambrill said. “He did a terrific job working with me when I was a professor. … He understands the importance of sound scholarship.”

As dean, Edleson said he has enjoyed seeing the School of Social Welfare’s recent hiring of a “new cadre of junior faculty,” some of whom have gone on to secure tenured positions. He also said the financial stability and strength of the School of Social Welfare is worth noting, especially given budgetary struggles at the campus level.

During Edleson’s tenure, the school expanded its space in Haviland Hall to upgrade classrooms and research facilities.

“I think he’s lived up to this role very well in this campus environment,” Gambrill said. “I understand why he’s stepping down, but I’m sorry he’s stepping down. I wish he would stay on longer. I think he’s done a great job. It’s always a major loss for a school to lose their dean.”

According to Edleson, the School of Social Welfare is ranked first among undergraduate social welfare programs and fourth among master’s programs in the nation. Additionally, the department’s faculty members have been recognized for the impact of their scholarship.

Edleson added that social work is an impactful field and that the department helps live out the mission of the university, which is to help people.

“Social work and social welfare helps us collaborate with communities to help them achieve what they need,” Edleson said. “Social workers are at the front lines of helping people and being a part of their lives.”

Contact Sri Medicherla at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sri_medicherla.