AUSTIN, Texas – The Tower will be lighted orange Friday evening, August 26, from 8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. in honor of School of Social Work Dean Barbara W. White, who has led the school for 18 years and is completing her deanship this month.
William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, said White is among those leaders at The University of Texas at Austin who have consistently lived up to the university’s slogan, “What Starts Here Changes the World.”
“Barbara has nurtured a culture of believing in humanity’s ability to make this world a better place,” Powers said. “Her greatest legacy is the many graduates from the School of Social Work who have gone out into the world to make a difference.”
White holds the school’s Centennial Professorship in Leadership and is an accomplished scholar in the areas of cultural diversity, women, and domestic violence. She is the first African American dean in the university’s history and has led the school’s successful efforts to meet new accreditation standards, achieve a national ranking among the Top 10 schools of social work, and participated in visionary efforts to enhance research and evidence-based practice.
Under her leadership, the School of Social Work has increased its enrollment two-fold to 800 students; established a distinguished faculty of nationally known experts in social work research and practice areas, including four professors who have been selected into the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers; and developed interdisciplinary collaborations, including four dual-degree graduate programs established with the School of Law, UT Health Science Center School of Public Health, LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Dean White has been actively engaged with social work education during the past three decades. She is a former president of the 155,000-member National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the profession’s primary educational organization that serves as the accrediting body for baccalaureate and master’s degree social work programs in the U.S. She is the only person in the social work profession to have held both leadership positions in NASW and CSWE.
Among the numerous awards she has received are: NASW Pioneer; Presidential Award for Leadership in Social Work Education and the International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award for Contributions to the Public Image of Professional Social Work, NASW; Lifetime Achievement Award, NASW-Texas; Inaugural Fellow and Board Member, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare; President’s Medal of Honor, Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors; Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award, CSWE; Member, African American Women’s Hall of Fame.
Dean White has also left an indelible international footprint as a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Schools of Social Work and member of the International Federation of Social Workers.
Dean White is an accomplished scholar in the areas of cultural diversity, women, and domestic violence. She holds a doctorate in political science and a master’s degree in social work, both from The Florida State University (FSU). Prior to joining The University of Texas at Austin, she was associate dean at FSU College of Social Work where she also directed the master’s degree program and received a University Teaching Excellence Award. She was recently recognized as a Distinguished Alumna by both the FSU College of Social Sciences and the College of Social Work.
Earlier this year, Dean White received the Heman Marion Sweatt Legacy Award from The University of Texas at Austin.