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School of Social Welfare Dean Search

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

University of Kansas Lawrence Campus Overview


The University of Kansas (KU) seeks a dynamic and visionary leader to serve as its sixth Dean of the School of Social Welfare. The School of Social Welfare is nationally and internationally known for its development of the strengths perspective and for its strong research centers and initiatives in child welfare, mental health, aging and disabilities, assets and education, and spiritual diversity. The School offers the only comprehensive social work program in Kansas, awarding professional degrees at all levels, B.S.W., M.S.W., and Ph.D.  

Situated in the beautiful, historic, and culturally vibrant city of Lawrence, the School of Social Welfare plays a central role in the life of the University of Kansas. The University of Kansas is the largest of six public universities governed by the Kansas Board of Regents. Founded in 1865, KU is a designated Carnegie comprehensive doctoral / very high research activity university and one of only 34 public members of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). The University enrolls more than 28,000 students and offers students and faculty opportunities to collaborate in its graduate and professional programs which include education, public health, medicine, law, and a number of allied social science disciplines. The University of Kansas is committed to excellence and fosters a multicultural environment in which the dignity and rights of every individual are respected.  

The University of Kansas’ Bold Aspirations strategic initiative guides the faculty, research, and staff collective in its commitment to educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world. With annual research expenditures exceeding $300 million and an endowment of more than $1 billion, the University’s mission to build healthier communities is particularly embraced by the faculty, staff, and students in the School of Social Welfare. Buoyed by the reputation and productivity of its faculty members and staff, by its success in securing significant external funding, and by the enduring support of its alumni and agency partners in Kansas and beyond, the School of Social Welfare offers an exciting and attractive environment in which to work.

Social work education began at KU in 1937. The Master of Social Work program, established in Lawrence and in Kansas City in 1946, has been continuously accredited since 1948. The Bachelor of Social Work degree, awarded since 1971, was one of the first in the nation to receive accredited status. At present, the School offers the complete M.S.W. program on its Lawrence campus, on the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park, and on the Fort Hays State University and Garden City Community College campuses. The School offers the B.S.W. program on the Lawrence campus, and a B.S.W. degree-completion program on the Kansas City Kansas Community College campus. The Council on Social Work Education reaccredited the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs in 2010 and our Master of Social Work program is consistently ranked among the nation's top 30 programs by US News & World Report.

The doctoral program admitted its first students in 1981 and attracts national and international students who seek the conceptual, analytical, and research skills required for success in academic research institutions globally. The School's Ph.D. graduates span the globe and serve the profession as faculty members, university administrators, and researchers.    

The School of Social Welfare-in-Environment

The School of Social Welfare consistently attracts a high level of applications for its academic programs and enjoys a persistent demand for continuing education opportunities from its alumni and community partners. Faculty members are graduates of prestigious universities located throughout the United States and are drawn to Kansas to work with colleagues who are deeply committed to fulfilling the teaching, research, and service missions of the profession.  Located in the heart of the nation, the School of Social Welfare offers its faculty and staff the intellectual environment one expects of a flagship university, the ambient environment of the beautiful Kansas landscape, and close proximity to the dynamic Kansas City metropolitan area. Lawrence, a center for the arts and culture in the Midwest, is home to one of the nation's most successful American Indian colleges (Haskell Indian Nations University), whose president is a graduate of the School's Ph.D. program. The School and the University enjoy a thriving town-gown relationship with the City of Lawrence. 

Responsibilities of the Dean

The dean serves as chief academic and administrative officer of the School of Social Welfare and reports directly to the Provost / Executive Vice Chancellor. The dean is responsible for providing imaginative, effective, dynamic, and transformational leadership to ensure the School’s long term success. Related responsibilities include providing visionary leadership in encouraging and rewarding faculty excellence in teaching, research, and service; fostering academic and scholarly excellence; exploring innovative approaches to enhance the educational experience of students; cultivating opportunities and resources to foster doctoral student education, development, and support to produce future cadres of innovative researchers and educators who are stewards of the profession; creating and maintaining a learning community in which students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for success in a multicultural world; soliciting and securing financial support for the School of Social Welfare from both public and private sources as the School and the University continue a capital campaign; energizing alumni and partners of the KU community to provide support —financial and otherwise — to build on the excellence of the School of Social Welfare; ensuring the School maintains and benefits from close contact with the professional community and that the professional community benefits from its involvement with the School; facilitating the recruitment, development, and retention of an outstanding and diverse faculty and student body in which women and minorities are well represented; efficiently and fairly formulating and managing the budget of the School of Welfare to ensure the growth and allocation of its resources in accordance with the best interests of the School and the University; building synergistic relationships with other schools and research centers that enhance the excellence of education and research within the School of Social Welfare and the larger University community; and recruiting, organizing, and directing a talented and effective staff that assist the Dean and faculty in the accomplishment of these responsibilities.

In view of this broad array of responsibilities, the search committee is seeking an accomplished and visionary leader who has the organizational and administrative skills necessary to manage a sophisticated academic organization, as well as the interpersonal and management skills to engage successfully with a wide range of constituencies — with the ultimate goal of inspiring continued excellence in the KU School of Welfare.


Required Qualifications

  • Education, teaching, and scholarship credentials that meet the standards for tenure and appointment at the rank of full professor in the School of Social Welfare
  • Prior administrative experience or a demonstrated capacity for leadership
  • A doctorate in Social Work or terminal degree in an allied discipline is required

 Preferred Qualifications

  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Evidence of success in fostering a climate in which excellence in faculty scholarship and teaching is expected, encouraged, and rewarded
  • A proven track record of successful fund raising
  • Experience and skill in securing and allocating resources to support faculty research and the delivery of high quality academic programs
  • Experience securing resources to support recruitment, retention, and development of high quality doctoral students
  • Evidence of commitment to the value of diversity
  • Evidence of commitment to the development and support of interdisciplinary and international activities and programs
  • Administrative experience in higher education
  • Involvement at the national level in professional social work organizations and/or organizations shaping social welfare policy
  • Knowledge of and experience with social work accreditation

Terms of Appointment

This is a 100% FTE 12-month appointment. The Dean of the School of Social Welfare reports to and serves at the pleasure of the Provost. The initial appointment is for five years. In addition to annual evaluations, the dean’s performance will be reviewed in depth every five years. 


The position is available beginning on or around July 1, 2015.  While applications and nominations will be accepted until a new dean is selected, applicants are encouraged to apply by October 1, 2014. Applications must include a curriculum vita and a letter of interest addressing the position qualifications. No reference checks will be made without approval of the applicant.

Applications, nominations, and inquiries should be submitted to:
R. William Funk & Associates
100 Highland Park Village, Suite 200
Dallas, TX 75205
(214) 522-1222

The University of Kansas is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Search Committee

Name Department
Rick Ginsberg, Chair Dean, School of Education
Margaret Severson, Associate Chair Professor, School of Social Welfare
Kathy DePaolis Graduate Student, School of Social Welfare
William Elliott Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare
Rick Goscha Research Staff, School of Social Welfare
Toni Johnson Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare
Debbie McCord​ Development Director, KU Endowment Association
Edward K. Morris​ Professor and Chair, Department of Applied Behavioral Science
Michelle Johnson Motoyama​ Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare
Chris Petr Professor, School of Social Welfare
Palle Rilinger​ Advisory Board Member
Kristin Trendel Academic Staff, School of Social Welfare


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