Dean Allan Cole announced the appointment of Professor Mary Beer, LCSW-S, to lead the field education program at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work (SHS), which will now be referred to as practicum education. Mary will serve as Assistant Dean for Practicum Education. Her work begins immediately as she and her predecessor, Tanya Voss, collaborate during a period of transition.

A graduate of SHS, Mary joined the School as a member of the faculty in 2012. Before then, she worked as a school social worker in Newark and Summit, NJ, and Austin ISD. Among her many accomplishments has been her deft leadership of SHS’s annual School Social Work Conference, which garners participation on the part of hundreds of practitioners from across the state and country.

“I am delighted that Mary will lead our program going forward,” said Dean Cole. “I am also grateful for how leadership changes provide opportunities to reflect on our rich history, express profound gratitude for those whose work has informed our success, and lean boldly into an exciting future, one full of opportunities not yet realized and, perhaps, not yet even imagined.”

A consummate educator, Mary’s excellence as a teacher was recognized as she received SHS’s 2023 Lora Lee Pederson Teaching Excellence Award. Dean Cole noted how her “experience, wisdom, and leadership qualities make her well-suited” for building on the strong foundation of the exceptional practicum faculty and program at SHS to support students in their professional and personal growth.

“Practicum education is at the heart of learning for social work students,” said Beer. “The program provides the opportunity to practice classroom and textbook skills in a rich learning environment. I look forward to building upon our School’s successes, increasing practicum support, and creating more opportunities for our students.”

SHS is entering a time of new momentum in practicum education. On average, SHS is adding approximately 40 new practicum opportunities a year for our students, thanks to members of the Community Partnership Development Committee (CPDC) for helping lead these efforts and making the School successful.

Furthermore, SHS now has 10 grant-funded programs as well as other support for students approaching $2,000,000 annually.

“We are not finished with our efforts to provide more financial support for our students, including practicum-related support, but it’s important to highlight the substantial progress that places us in an enviable position among leading schools of social work throughout the country,” said Dean Cole. “Of course, any part and parcel of any success we enjoy are the collective hard work and dedication of SHS faculty, staff, and students. I appreciate all of their vital contributions to the SHS community and those we serve.”