Deborah Gorman-Smith reappointed as dean of the Crown Family School

Prof. Deborah Gorman-Smith has been reappointed as dean of the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.

The Emily Klein Gidwitz Professor, Gorman-Smith is a widely recognized scholar in her field. In a message announcing her reappointment, President Paul Alivisatos and Provost Katherine Baicker wrote that Gorman-Smith’s thoughtful leadership has had a tremendous impact on expanding the influence of the Crown Family School. 

“The Crown Family School enriches our academic environment and community by working to advance a more just and humane society,” Baicker said. “Deborah’s leadership and vision have significantly broadened the school’s visibility and amplified its impact on campus, across the South Side and around the world. I am thrilled that she will continue leading the school into the future.”

Since her tenure as dean began in 2017, Gorman-Smith stewarded several major gifts, most notably a landmark $75 million gift from James and Paula Crown and their family—the largest ever in support of a school of social work—that led to the renaming of the school. She also oversaw the establishment of the Susan and Richard Kiphart Center for Global Health and Social Development, in partnership with the Biological Sciences Division. She has expanded academic programs, including through the creation of a new master’s degree program in social sector leadership and nonprofit management, along with a new undergraduate minor in the College that broadens student pathways in the school’s five-year AB/AM program and other master’s programs.

Gorman-Smith led efforts to bring UChicago’s Urban Education Institute into the school, expanding existing collaborations with local educators and identifying new ways to improve educational outcomes. She created the school’s Office of Community Partnership and Impact, which has advanced strategic partnerships to collaboratively tackle pressing social issues impacting Chicago and the region. Under her leadership and in coordination with the Office of Civic Engagement, the school launched a free nonprofit management certificate program for early to mid-career nonprofit professionals on the South Side. Gorman-Smith was integral to developing the University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars program and has initiated community relationships that help integrate scholarly research with real-world policy and practice. She has advised UChicago and city leaders on public safety and violence intervention efforts on the South Side.

Gorman-Smith is the faculty director of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention. Her research examines areas related to youth violence, including the developmental impact of exposure to violence; risk for involvement in violence; and the effects of family-focused, school-based, and community-level preventive interventions. 

“It is an honor and privilege to serve as dean of the Crown Family School,” Gorman-Smith said. “Our work has always reflected the vision of our founders—that real change requires expertise from multiple disciplines and from the community, working together to confront society’s most pressing challenges. With the growth of our programs, the work of our exceptional staff and students, and the strength of the research of our faculty, we have a powerful opportunity to work with even greater intensity and speed to further advance that vision. I am thrilled to continue to partner with colleagues in that transformational work.”