Luis H. Zayas, Ph.D.

Luis H. Zayas, Ph.D.

Dean and Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy

Luis H. Zayas was appointed as Dean of the School of Social Work in January 2012.  Before joining UT Austin, Zayas was the inaugural Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.  During his nearly ten years at Washington University, Zayas held the post of Associate Dean for Faculty from 2005-2007 and founded the Center for Latino Family Research in 2007.   At Washington University, he taught social work practice courses; mentored doctoral dissertations, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate research assistants; led outpatient management rounds and psychotherapy seminars for psychiatric residents; and conducted research in diagnostic processes, suicide attempts of young Latinas, and adapting interventions for Latino children, youth and families.

Born in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Zayas attended college and graduate school in New York City.  In a social work career spanning 35 years, Zayas has cross-walked clinical practice, supervision, administration, and research.  He entered the field as a social worker in New York City delivering services directly to clients in social service agencies, general and pediatric rehabilitation hospitals, and mental health and primary care clinics in the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx.  Zayas directed a therapeutic nursery in the South Bronx where he also supervised clinical staff.  While extending his focus to research, teaching, and administration, Zayas has remained an active practitioner throughout, more recently providing pro bono services to community agencies.

Presently, Zayas is focusing on the plight of citizen-children whose parents are being deported.  Through funding by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, he is examining the effects of deportation on the psychosocial functioning of U.S.-born citizen-children of undocumented Mexican immigrants.  As a practitioner, Zayas is involved also in evaluating citizen-children and testifying in immigration courts on behalf of citizen-children and their families.  This practice has also led to his public advocacy for citizen-children.  In addition, Zayas continues his research on adolescent Latinas who have the highest rates of suicide attempts of any U.S. adolescent group.

Zayas has held social work faculty appointments at Columbia University, Fordham University, and Washington University, and a family medicine faculty appointment at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation; National Institute of Mental Health; Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and other public and private sources.  In 1993, he was honored by the American Family Therapy Academy with the “Economic and Cultural Diversity Award” for his work with AIDS orphans and their families.  He received leadership awards from several professional associations and mentoring awards at Washington University.  He has lectured to university audiences in Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Professional Interests

Adapting interventions for diverse ethnocultural families; suicide attempts among young Latinos; child and adolescent mental health; family functioning; advocacy for U.S. citizen-children.


  • Ph.D., Columbia University
  • M.A., M.Phil., Columbia University
  • M.S. (social work), Columbia University



Social Work Building


Mailing Address

The University of Texas
School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500
Austin, TX 78712-0358