Cynthia Franklin, Ph.D., is the Director of External Relations and is the Stiernberg/Spencer Family Professor in Mental Health in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Franklin holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the Dell Medical School. She recently finished serving as Interim Dean for Academic Affairs and is also the former Associate Dean for Doctoral Education.

Trained as a family therapist, Franklin has championed family- and strengths-based mental health interventions since the start of her clinical work more than 40 years ago. Throughout her 30+ years in academia, she has continued practicing as a mental health and family therapist in her areas of expertise. Franklin is an internationally recognized expert on solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) and mental health in K-12 school contexts. She has devoted her career to advancing the practice of SFBT and expanding research on SFBT, with the aim of helping children, adolescents, and teachers in schools.

Franklin received much recognition for her work developing a highly successful solution-focused dropout prevention program at Gonzalo Garza Independence High School in 2002. The program significantly reduces high school dropout rates and improves support for students wishing to attend college, and is still used as a leading model for dropout  prevention.

In addition to her academic leadership as Director of External Relations, Franklin has also served in national leadership and editorial positions. Since 2013, she has served as the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Social Work for Oxford University Press. Her leadership was pivotal for migrating the encyclopedia from print to digital. She is the past editor-in-chief of the journal Children in Schools, and the past president of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work.

Franklin was recognized in 2023 as one of the top 30 faculty members at UT Austin in social sciences and humanities by In 2019, Franklin was named as one of the 100 most influential contemporary social work faculty in recognition of the impact her more than 200 publications have had on the field. Franklin was honored with the Gary Lee Shaffer award for academic contributions to the field of school social work and was also inducted into the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Franklin received the designation “Social Work Pioneer” from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for her unique dedication and commitment to improve social and human conditions. She also is the recipient of the NASW Texas Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her lifelong dedication to advancing the social work field.

In her free time, Franklin enjoys participating in equestrian sports, time on her ranch, and watching UT football with her family and close friends.

Curriculum Vitae

Professional Interests

School mental health, solution-focused brief therapy, dropout prevention, at-risk youths