Former professor named as new dean of UI School of Social Work

Former professor named as new dean of UI School of Social Work

URBANA — A former University of Illinois faculty member has been named dean of the UI School of Social Work, succeeding one of the campus' longest-serving deans.

Steven Anderson, director of the School of Social Work at Michigan State University, will take over as dean effective Sept. 16, pending approval by UI trustees.

He succeeds Wynne Korr, who is stepping down Sept. 15 and plans to retire this fall. She has been dean for the last 15 years, the longest tenure on campus.

Korr planned to step down a year ago but said she was persuaded to stay by former interim Provost Edward Feser because of other administrative turnover at the time.

Anderson, who will also be a tenured professor of social work, will earn $265,000 annually.

Anderson earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social work at Illinois before getting a master's and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.

He also was an assistant professor and an associate professor of social work at Illinois from 1997 to 2010. He was director of the School of Social Work at Arizona State University before taking the Michigan State position.

"Steve knows our school and the university, the community and the state. He's an experienced administrator. I'm thrilled," Korr said.

The School of Social Work has seen substantial growth in recent years, and the hope is that will continue, Korr said.

It was forced to close its undergraduate program in the 1990s during a previous UI budget crisis, she said. But the school continued to teach undergraduate social work classes and re-established the undergraduate major about seven years ago, she said. It now has about 300 undergraduate majors and another 100 students who minor in social work, she said.

The school also hopes to expand its master of social work program, founded in 1944, partly through online offerings.

And it's been working to expand its extensive research and training partnerships with the state of Illinois, particularly the Department of Children and Family Services, to help with professional training in child welfare.

"I know the new dean will have ideas of his own," Korr said.

Anderson's research focuses on low-income families' access to benefits and assessment of poverty programs.

"Professor Anderson will bring an outstanding combination of prioritization of students, administrative experience, academic record and vision to the School of Social Work deanship," John Wilkin, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, said in a release.

Korr said she will remain as a professor for a few months to wrap up some projects and help the campus with some "areas of interest" before officially retiring.

"I still intend to be a researcher and a scholar," she said. "When you're an active administrator for a long time, some of your own writing gets a little put to the side."

He research focuses on mental health policy and services as well as social work education.

She plans to stay in the community, continuing her work on the board of the East Central Illinois Community Foundation, helping it develop a nonprofit incubator, and as a volunteer with the United Way's Community Impact.

"I will continue to be active in this town I call home," she said.

She received her doctorate in psychology from SUNY-Buffalo. Before coming to the UI in 2002 she was a social work professor and co-director of the Center for Mental Health Services Research at the University of Pittsburgh.

Previously, she'd taught at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her first professional position was as a Program Evaluator in the Illinois Department of Mental Health.

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