The Steve Hicks School of Social Work (SHS) at The University of Texas at Austin has established the Center for Societal Impact and welcomes Jeanette Davidson, Ph.D., ACSW, as its inaugural director.

The CSI is the newest of 10 Steve Hicks School institutes and centers. Envisioned by Allan Cole, Dean of SHS, the CSI’s mission is to align interdisciplinary efforts in research and instruction with partnerships to solve critical social problems. Through different domains of interest and focus, including ethics, aging, disability, children and families, and global health and technology, the CSI’s work engages students, faculty, and community partners in efforts to foster human flourishing.

“The Center for Societal Impact is created to change lives. The CSI will convene the best leaders, researchers, and practitioners to design solutions for society’s biggest challenges. Its work will be an active part of UT Austin’s charge to become the most impactful public research university in the world,” said Cole.

As director, Davidson will advance the CSI’s work on matters such as affordable housing and homelessness, aging, disability, community development, foster care and adoption, and challenges and opportunities relating to health and mental health. Davidson will also serve as a Professor of Instruction in the Steve Hicks School.

“Dr. Davidson has extensive interdisciplinary experience that informs her understanding that universities need to work locally, nationally, and globally to fulfill their mission. She will be an exceptional leader and asset to our school and the university. We are excited to welcome her to the 40 Acres and to this valuable work,” said Cole.

Davidson comes to the University of Texas at Austin from the University of Oklahoma (OU), where she served as a professor of African and African American Studies and social work. She also served as the director of the African and African American Studies Program at OU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Previously, she practiced as a clinician and also served on the faculty of the Schools of Social Work at Columbia University and the University of North Texas.

“It is a joy and a privilege to engage students, faculty, and community partners so that we can improve people’s lives. I am honored to be named the first director of the CSI and am ready to take on its important work,” said Davidson.

Davidson began her role effective Thursday, June 1. For more information about the Center for Societal Impact, please visit