Linda Burton named dean of UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare

Duke University/Courtesy

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Linda Burton, current James B. Duke Professor of Sociology at Duke University, was named the new dean of the UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare on Monday, according to a UC Berkeley press release.

Burton will take over for former dean Jeffrey Edleson, who has held the position since 2012. Edleson will remain dean until Sept. 1. Burton will oversee almost 400 people, including 45 faculty members, according to School of Social Welfare spokesperson Jennifer Monahan.

According to Edleson, the role of the dean changed over the past decade from mostly an academic administrative role to one that encompasses more fundraising and public outreach.

Burton is not new to the position of dean. She has three years of experience working as the dean of social sciences at Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, according to the press release. As a result of her time in this position, according to Burton, she has a lot of experience working with faculty, especially regarding what she described as “thorny” issues.

Academically, Burton is, according to Edleson, a “world-renowned scholar.” The press briefing states that Burton has a “prolific research record” and praised her on her work as an ethnographer. Burton has more than 22 scholarly honors and more than 100 publications on her resume.

“She comes from a very impressive scholarly reputation and achievements, as well as administrative,” Edleson said.

When Burton arrives at the school, she said her first step will be to listen and learn from faculty, and then focus on “strategic planning.” She will try to develop a “collective perspective” based on her conversations with faculty on how the school should proceed.

Burton’s vision for the School of Social Welfare is for it to be engaged in national discourse, asking and answering questions about social justice and equality in the United States. According to Monahan, Burton also has an “emphasis on mentorship” that “resonated” with the school community.

“I’ve always felt that one of the major contributions that we can make is not only to develop our own understanding of the way humans can contribute to society but also make sure that we are providing opportunities for growth for others that we work with,” Burton said. “That’s where mentorship comes into play.”

Burton feels that Edleson left the school “in an incredibly positive situation.”

According to its website, the School of Social Welfare is a national leader in undergraduate social work majors, and its master’s degree program is ranked third in the nation.

“I just want to say how thrilled I am with this opportunity,” Burton said. “I just look forward to getting to Berkeley and being part of the Berkeley family.”

Contact Lev Gordon-Feierabend at [email protected].