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2023 Message from the Dean

Benjamin Lough

Dean and Professor

headshot of Ben Lough

Dear School of Social Work Community

This past year, we have made much progress under the decisive leadership of Dean Anderson. Importantly, we have taken steps to infuse our curriculum and community with a renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and racial justice. As you will read in the following stories, these themes are woven into every aspect of our work, from addressing racial disproportionality in child welfare to pioneering new research projects focused on economic development and violence prevention.

We continue to place a strong emphasis on public engagement, nurturing valuable partnerships with state agencies and focusing our research on critical social problems, such as child abuse and neglect, mental health, substance abuse, and health. One of the initiatives spotlighted in this report is a pilot project delivering and testing a guaranteed basic income to homeless families in Champaign County. Other faculty members have been working to provide new services for foster youth on campus. These efforts, and many other projects not spotlighted in the report, reflect our commitment to extending our mission beyond the confines of the classroom. We are proud to celebrate our faculty and staff who have been recognized for their excellence in public engagement.

This past year, our school adopted a new global strategic plan, which we have begun to put into action. We continue to nurture global citizenship among our students and to forge new connections with international partners. Our collaboration with social work institutions in Taiwan, faculty efforts to inform disaster relief, and our work to strengthen global mental health each testify to these efforts, with many more promising ventures on the horizon.

In this report, we also shine a light on the commendable efforts of our ambitious students who have started new programs with significant social impact. Their work exemplifies our commitment to social justice and racial equity. The innovative projects highlighted in this report combine the strengths of social work with business, arts, and other disciplines in exciting ways.

This upcoming year also brings with it new leadership, the retirement of beloved faculty, and the welcoming in of new faculty and staff. With these changes, we anticipate a wave of fresh perspectives and exciting opportunities. To our dedicated staff, faculty, students, alumni, and community partners, I extend my deepest gratitude. Your collective efforts play a vital role in shaping our school into a vibrant community, steadfast in our shared mission to promote social change.

Thank you! Here’s to another year of growth, innovation, and impact.

Ben Lough
Dean and Professor

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