Luis H. Zayas is dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and the Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy. Dean Zayas is the sixth dean in the history of Steve Hicks School of Social Work. He also holds an appointment as professor of psychiatry at the Dell Medical School of The University of Texas at Austin.

In his role as a national leader in social work, Dean Zayas is currently president of the Society for Social Work and Research, the largest social work research organization in the world. Previously, he served two terms (2016-2018; 2018-2020) as president of   St. Louis Group for Excellence in Social Work Education and Research  , which represents the leading research schools of social work. In 2012, he was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. In 2017, he was elected to the Executive Board of the Academy and served until 2019. Prior to these positions, Dean Zayas held the position of member-at-large of the executive committee of the National Association of Deans and Directors of schools and programs in social work. Along with Steve Hicks School professors Catherine Cubbin and Cynthia Franklin, he was identified in a 2019 report (Journal of Social Service Research ) as one of the most influential contemporary social work scholars.

A native of Coamo, Puerto Rico, Dean Zayas received his BA from Manhattan College in economics and liberal arts. He received an MS in social work and MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees in developmental psychology from Columbia University.  He began his social work career in New York City as a clinician in social service agencies, general and pediatric rehabilitation hospitals, and mental health and primary care clinics in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Dean Zayas went on to teach at Columbia University, and Fordham University. He held a faculty appointment in family medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Just prior to joining UT Austin, Dean Zayas was the inaugural Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. He has lectured to university audiences in Chile, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Dean Zayas remains an active practitioner today through his evaluations of immigrant children and families facing deportation, and refugee and asylum-seeking mothers and children held in immigration detention centers.

Zayas is the author of Latinas Attempting Suicide: When Cultures, Families, and Daughters Collide (Oxford, 2011), which is based on his decades of clinical and research experience with Hispanic families and children. He is regularly sought out to speak to professional and lay audiences on this topic and is frequently cited in the news media.

He is also the author of Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans (Oxford, 2015), a book about the plight of U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants who live under the constant threat of deportation or have been deported.  Forgotten Citizens received the 2016 Book Award Honorable Mention by the Society for Social Work and Research book award committee, and was runner up for the 2016 Hamilton Book Award.

Curriculum Vitae

Professional Interests

Immigrant children and families; immigration detention and deportation; suicide attempts among young Latinos; child and adolescent mental health; family functioning; advocacy for asylum-seeking immigrant children and parents, and mixed-status families.

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Research