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Kevin Tan

Associate Dean for Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Associate Professor

headshot of Kevin Tan


Dr. Kevin Tan received his PhD from the School of Social Service Administration (now Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice) at the University of Chicago. He received his Master’s in Social Work from the Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, and his Bachelors in Social Work (Honors) from the National University of Singapore.


Dr. Kevin Tan’s research focuses on promoting social emotional learning (SEL) among pre K-12 populations, particularly in advancing the ways SEL fosters youth development and enhances student outcomes. Dr. Tan works extensively with administrators in multiple school districts and community-based organizations to support SEL programming and youth risk prevention efforts. His work is informed by his six years of experience as a school social worker.

In recent years, Dr. Tan’s focus has pivoted to studying how SEL serves as a lever for diversity, equity, and inclusion. His passion lies in supporting adults in fostering youth identity, agency, and belonging, empowering the younger generation to contribute to a more just and equitable society. He is actively involved in initiatives that foster and sustain community-academic partnerships.

Nationally recognized for his outstanding academic contributions, Dr. Tan received the 2021 Gary Lee Shaffer Award from the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA). The University of Illinois also acknowledged his exemplary engagement work with the 2023 Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Engagement. Dr. Tan has secured over $2.5 million in grants, reflecting his commitment to promoting SEL, community partnerships, racial healing, and trauma-informed work.

Dr. Tan plays a pivotal role in shaping the profession. He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief for the journal Children & Schools published by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Press. Dr. Tan has also been appointed by SSWAA to spearhead the revision and implementation of the National School Social Work Practice model, providing a visionary direction for the field into the next decade and beyond. In January 2024, Dr. Tan assumed the role of the inaugural Associate Dean for Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the School of Social Work, following his leadership as the chair of the racial justice curriculum taskforce since 2021.

In addition to his faculty position as an associate professor at the School of Social Work, Dr. Tan holds affiliations as an associate professor at the College of Education and a faculty affiliate at the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute. He teaches coursework in Social Work Practice with Children and Youth, advanced research methods, and the doctoral-level teaching seminar.

Dr. Tan values working with undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students on SEL-related research and community-based programming projects. He appreciates hearing from former students about their career journeys and successes, finding inspiration in their professional achievements.

He enjoys engaging in vibrant community events and traveling with his wife and young son.

Latest news

  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Research,
  • Community Impact

Kevin Tan Awarded Multiple Grants to Support Racial Healing Sustainability

February 27, 2024

head shot image of Kevin Tan
  • Students,
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Community Impact

Tan Named Associate Dean for Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

January 22, 2024

headshot of Kevin Tan in office
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Research,
  • Community Impact

Kevin Tan and IHSI’s Brandi Barnes Team up to Combat Community Violence in Danville 

September 11, 2023

IHSI website

photo of Hope Center students in Illinois Social Work classroom
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Community Impact

Excellence in Public Engagement Award Recipients 

June 01, 2023

Illinois News Bureau

headshot of Sara Benson, Tracy Dace and Kevin Tan
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Research,
  • Community Impact

R3 Program Grant Funds Research Project Aimed at Improving SEL in Danville Schools

February 15, 2021

blue graphic promoting R3 state grant
  • Faculty & Staff

Tan Wins National Award for School Social Work

January 13, 2021

Kevin Tan - professor of social work
  • Faculty & Staff,
  • Research,
  • Community Impact

Projects Explore Role of Social-Emotional Learning in Healing Racial Wounds

January 06, 2021

Shown with Professor Kevin Tan are, from left: director of instruction Nicole Rummel and superintendent Lindsey Hall, both of Mahomet-Seymour CUSD No. 3.
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