Deborah Gorman-Smith named dean of the School of Social Service Administration

Deborah Gorman-Smith, a leading scholar in youth development and the prevention of violence, has been appointed dean of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

Gorman-Smith is the Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor of the School of Social Service Administration and has served as interim dean of the School since July 2017. Her appointment is effective immediately.

“Deborah Gorman-Smith has provided vital leadership at the School of Social Service Administration. Her work has continued the momentum of the School, and we are confident Deborah will provide exceptional leadership in the years ahead,” wrote President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Daniel Diermeier in announcing her appointment.

Gorman-Smith, who joined the University in 2012, is the principal investigator and director of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention, one of six national Centers of Excellence for Youth Violence Prevention funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The center, based at SSA, is devoted to studying and stemming the underlying causes of youth violence through evidence-based, collaborative interventions that focus on families and communities, linking them with schools, social service agencies, the justice system and policymakers.

Gorman-Smith has published extensively in areas related to youth violence, including the developmental impact of exposure to violence, the relationship between neighborhood characteristics, family functioning and violence and the effects of family-focused, school-based and community-level preventive interventions. She serves or has served as principal or co-principal investigator on several longitudinal risk and preventive intervention studies funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Justice, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and William T. Grant Foundation.

“It is a great honor and privilege to lead this distinctive School, home to a multidisciplinary group of faculty committed to rigorous research and preparing the next generation of leaders to address society's most pressing challenges. I look forward to partnering with faculty, staff and students to advance SSA’s vital contributions to social work and social welfare practice and policy,” Gorman-Smith said.

As one of the oldest and most highly regarded graduate schools of social work, SSA prepares leaders to confront society’s most difficult challenges by developing new knowledge, promoting a deeper understanding of the causes and human costs of social inequalities, and developing and testing solutions. In doing so, SSA embraces the enduring values of the University, academic rigor in research and teaching, interdisciplinary inquiry, and deep engagement with the community.

Gorman-Smith is a member of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, current fellow and past president of the Society for Prevention Research and has served on other national and state committees, including the Board of Scientific Counselors, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control.

Gorman-Smith received her PhD in clinical-developmental psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Northern Illinois University.

The selection of the new dean by Zimmer and Diermeier was informed by an elected committee of the School of Social Service Administration faculty, co-chaired by Prof. Julia Henly and Assoc. Prof. Gina M. Samuels.