Winter 2022
School Updates

Dean's Message 2022

This past year has certainly been a time of hope and continued struggles.

Dear alumni and friends,

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since we last published an issue of Bridges. The world around us continues to be unpredictable and challenging. This past year has certainly been a time of hope and continued struggles. I hope that you, like all of us at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, have found ways to persevere; adapt; support each other; and find time to reflect, relax, and even enjoy as we make our way through.

Last year, Pitt Social Work lost a larger-than-life former leader with the passing of Larry E. Davis. The notes and remembrances from so many of you really highlighted how much of an impact he had not just on the school but also on the profession at a national level and on the lives and careers of so many people.

The school continues to advance and to center Dean Davis’ focus on racial equity. We are building on the school’s long history of anti-racism work by naming James Huguley as our inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and meeting biweekly for collaborative discussion and learning in our Anti-Racist Learning Collaborative. Dean Betsy Farmer

Along with Huguley, we have other newly promoted and hired faculty and staff whom we have been thrilled to welcome to our school as we continue to grow and thrive in these challenging times. One highlight is in our Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program, which is led by Toya Jones (MSW ’07). See the Q&A with her on page 6.

Our cover story is one that is timely and focuses on a long-standing field of interest in social work and at Pitt. As America’s aging population grows, so does the need for innovative, compassionate, and committed practitioners in geriatric social work. In this issue, you can read about some of the work our alumni are doing in this area as well as the opportunities available to social work students.

In recent years, we have really focused on the broad range of career options and opportunities that a degree in social work can support. So in this issue, we also shine a light on some alumni who have followed nontraditional pathways through their careers in order to illustrate the expansive options for our current students.

As always, please be sure to read about the talented and impressive recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. It is always a pleasure to celebrate the hard work of our alumni and to recognize their accomplishments.

This is the year we also celebrate some wonderful milestones: 25 years for the Child Welfare Education and Research Programs and 20 years for the Center on Race and Social Problems. Please stay connected and join us for an assortment of activities over the coming months as we mark these anniversaries.

I am so excited about this reinvigorated version of Bridges. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed pulling it all together. It’s a true privilege to be able to connect with our alumni and to highlight the incredible stories, journeys, and accomplishments of all of you in our alumni network! We want to stay in touch and up to date on what’s happening in your lives, so please remember to follow us on social media, visit, or join us (virtually, for now) for a speaker or other event.

All the best,

Elizabeth M.Z. “Betsy” Farmer
Dean, School of Social Work
University of Pittsburgh