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Updated 3:00 PM August 7, 2008




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Poverty expert to lead School of Social Work

Laura Lein, a poverty expert at the University of Texas at Austin, has been selected as dean of the School of Social Work, pending approval by the Board of Regents.

President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Teresa Sullivan, in consultation with the board’s Personnel, Compensation and Governance Committee, announced Lein’s appointment, which is effective Jan. 1.

“President Coleman and I are extremely pleased that Professor Laura Lein is assuming the leadership of the School of Social Work,” Sullivan says. “She is recognized as a dedicated teacher, mentor and scholar whose commitment to social justice and the use of evidence-based research to shape social policy is genuine.

“We are confident in her ability to articulate a vision for the School of Social Work that will position it as a truly interdisciplinary leader among our other schools and colleges and a national leader in the ongoing debates over social work practice and education.”

John Tropman, professor of social work, will serve as interim dean Sept. 1-Dec. 31.

Lein, professor of social work and anthropology, has conducted research on families in poverty, social welfare policies and programs, child care policies and programs, gender, race and ethnicity.

“I am looking forward with great excitement to my work with colleagues at the U-M School of Social Work, on the opportunities and challenges that face the school and the field of social work more generally,” she says. “With its creative and productive faculty and staff, its tradition of excellence in social work, and its range of interdisciplinary approaches, the school provides a unique foundation for meeting these challenges.

“I am eager to bring to the school what I can offer from my own past work and the professional and personal ties forged in nearly a quarter century at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, my primary appointment and the Department of Anthropology.”

Lein received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology-anthropology from Swarthmore College in 1969, and master’s and doctoral degrees in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1970 and 1973, respectively. From 1972-77, she worked for the Center for the Study of Public Policy in Cambridge, Mass. At Wellesley College, Lein was a member of the faculty of the Management Basics Program from 1983-85.

In 1985, she joined the University of Texas at Austin as a senior lecturer in the School of Social Work and Department of Anthropology, and was promoted to professor in 1999. From 1986-98, she also was a visiting professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Lein has an extensive record of program and research administration. She served for five years (1981-85) as the director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, and two terms (1987-91) as the director of women’s studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She has also served for many years on the Research Planning and Development Committee (the faculty advisory committee) for the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin.

She has developed research programs on women, work, poverty and family with funding by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, the McArthur Foundation, the Hogg Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and the Texas Department of Human Services among others.

Her publications include nine books and edited volumes, one of which is widely used in undergraduate and graduate curricula. She has published more than 50 articles and book chapters as well as giving more than 90 academic presentations nationally and overseas.

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