Skip to content

August 16, 2017

David Dupper Begins Term as Interim Dean

Following the retirement of former dean Dr. Karen Sowers, Dr. David Dupper was appointed Interim Dean of the College effective August 16.

Photo of Dr. David DupperIn his new role, Dr. Dupper will provide strategic leadership for the college's faculty, staff, and students in the coming months while a national search is conducted to hire the College's new dean.

Dr. Dupper came to UT as an associate professor in 1998 and was promoted to full professor in 2010. He has previously served the College as the Associate Dean of the Knoxville campus of the College from 2001-2004 and as the Director of the BSSW Program from 2013-2016.

Dr Dupper's research interests include relationship-based school discipline and comprehensive approaches to addressing school bullying as well as incorporating mindfulness practices within social work education and practice.


May 25, 2017

Elsie Pettit of the College of Social Work Library Retires after 20 Years

Elsie Pettit has served the UT College of Social Work and the UT Library Systems for 20 years. She has worked at the Nashville Campus in the Social Work Library there.

Kate McCernon-Chaffin, Director of the Nashville Campus will miss her presence and all she does for the students. “Elsie has been a source of knowledge and resources for both faculty and students. She led a charge to make sure that students with disabilities received the added services that they needed to be successful in the program as it relates to technology.  She has worked tirelessly to help students with writing skills and has been essential in working with them to find the resources they need to do well in their courses.  She has always been proactive in assisting faculty with adding media and books to the library that will  supplement classes. She will be missed beyond measure!"

Photo of Elsie PettitElsie first studied English Literature as an undergrad student, but went on to get a master's degree in Library and Information Sciences. She came to the College of Social Work serendipitously when she heard that our college was looking for a librarian 20 years ago. She learned while on the job what was important to the faculty of social work and how to best assist social work students in their research.

"Over the years," says Elsie, "I have always enjoyed connecting students with information that they have been unable to find. However, my greatest joy has been having a lot of direct contact with disabled students. It is gratifying to assist them. Before the days of JAWS screen reader, I took time to read articles to students who were blind."

"I will miss the people here at the college and wish them well in the future. I also will miss collaborating with the wonderful library team on the Knoxville campus." When David P. Atkins, from the Knoxville library announced to the library staff that Elsie was planning to retire, he said. "After 20 years of exceptional service, Elsie Pettit will retire from UT Libraries. For these past two decades, Elsie has served as our university’s one-woman show, managing all operations for our College of Social Work (CSW) Library in Nashville. With a great heart and generous spirit, Elsie served Nashville with reference assistance, orientation and instruction, as well as collections support. She also created a safe and welcoming library space for the College of Social Work’s Nashville’s students, faculty, and staff. Always a strong advocate for her students and faculty, Elsie will be dearly missed."

Elsie plans to move from Nashville to Salt Lake City, Utah, to live close to her daughter and son-in-law. She looks forward to hiking in the Wasatch Mountains that surround the city.

May 21, 2017

Nicole Chandler Receives the Lucille Evans Dean Award

The Lucille Evans Dean Award is given annually by the UT College of Social Work, Nashville Campus, in recognition of outstanding social work contributions and service to the community by an alum of the college. Lucille Evans Dean was the first African-American student to graduate from the Nashville School of Social Work, which became the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. She entered the school in 1954 and after she graduated said, "We were well prepared to face the world." Lucille Evans Dean was an exemplary social worker who made an impact on her community.

This year's award was presented to Casaundra Nicole Chandler. Susan Bryant, Director of Recruitment at the College of Social Work, stated, "Nicole is a model social worker who has had a long career of creating safe and healthy environments for children and youth."

Nicole Chandler Receives Lucille Evans Dean AwardC. Nicole Chandler (pictured with Kate Chaffin, Director of the Nashville and Online MSSW Programs and Ragan Schriver, Director of the Knoxville MSSW Program) is the Executive Director of the Change Center Knoxville, a collaborative, citywide initiative. The Change Center provides state-of ?the?art-facilities, recreation, mentorship, and leadership development to increase opportunities for youth to succeed through workforce development and access to educational opportunities from within the inner city.

Chandler, an LMSW and certified Crisis Management Specialist, has a Masters in Social Work from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is also a graduate of the UT Knoxville Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness program (CSEE). A longtime advocate for youth, her professional career includes over 15 years on the staff of other local non-profits: Youth Villages, Wesley House Community Center, and Project GRAD Knoxville.

March 22, 2017

CSW Field Instructor Rachel Ross is TN Social Worker of the Year

Rachel Ross and Kim DentonRachel Ross, LCSW, has been named by NASW-TN as Social Worker of the Year. Ross is a social work professional who is engaged in integrated health care and social work education. Her commitment to education and teaching is highlighted by her development of a social work internship at Vine School Health Clinic in which she works with several bachelor and master students from the UT College of Social Work each academic year.

Along with being a field instructor, she teaches a field course for the College of Social Work. Her leadership exemplifies the best of social work values and the mission of the college. Kim Denton, Assistant Professor of Practice and Coordinator of the CSW Field Education, BSSW Program, nominated Rachel Ross for this award.

March 22, 2017

College of Social Work Student Jessica Tarantino Honored as Social Work Student of the Year

Jessica Tarantino UT College of Social Work Student, Jessica Tarantino, was named 2017 BSW Student of the Year by the NASW-TN Chapter at the organization's Social Work Day on the Hill Honors luncheon. Jessica is an honor's student at the college and is actively involved in advocacy events on campus and in the Knoxville community. She is a leader of the Bachelors Social Work Organization at the college and serves as the Peer Mentoring Coordinator for new transfer students.

Dr. Robert Mindrup, Interim Director of the College's BSSW Program stated, "She is one of the most hardworking, highly intelligent, and dedicated students you will encounter. At the undergraduate level it is quite rare to find a student, like Jessica, who demonstrates a tremendous level of ethical maturity coupled with a profound compassion for social justice. Jessica is greatly respected and highly regarded by her peers and the social work faculty."

Sarah Curtis, BSSW Academic Advisor, added her comments about Jessica. "It was clear from the moment Jessica started at UT that she had a passion for social work that you just cannot teach... I can say with confidence that she will be an outstanding asset to our profession and a shining example of our values and ethics."

Jessica Tarantino was surprised and pleased to receive this award. "When I heard that I had won this award, I initially questioned how and why this had happened," she stated. "I had no idea I was even nominated, so it came as quite a surprise. It wasn't until I went to Social Work Day on the Hill that I realized those who were involved in nominating me. I was very touched by the thoughtful and kind words written by Dr. Mindrup, Sarah Curtis, and Dr. Rogge on my behalf. When reflecting on receiving this award, I realized that it would not have been possible without the leadership opportunities provided by the UT Knoxville College of Social Work, the faculty and staff who have been extremely supportive from the day I transferred to UT, the classmates who have volunteered their time for community service activities I have organized, and the active involvement of the mentors and mentees in the Peer Mentoring Program. I felt overcome with gratitude and feel honored to have received this award."

March 21, 2017

Linda O'Neal Receives Senator Douglas Henry Award for Service to Children and Families at Risk

Linda O'Neal, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, received the College of Social Work's 2017 Senator Douglas Henry Award for Service to Children and Families at Risk on March 21st at the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare's (TCSW) annual Luncheon in Franklin, TN. The award was presented by Associate Dean Dr. Sherry Cummings.

The award is intended to recognize individuals or organizations with an exemplary record of service to children and families. Dr. Cummings, upon presenting the award, explained, "Today, we honor the memory of Senator Henry, who died on March 5th. Senator Henry was known as the patron saint of children and social workers for his long and dedicated service to the children and families of Tennessee. During his years in the state legislature, Senator Henry sponsored numerous bills that affect the safety and well-being of the state's most vulnerable citizens."

Linda O'Neal and Sherry CummingsThis year's award, given to Linda O'Neal, recognizes her long and distinguished career focused on improving the lives of our state's most vulnerable citizens. She began as a counselor and field supervisor in the Tennessee Department of Human Services and went on to found the Institute for Children's Resources, a non-profit youth advocacy agency. She has worked as an attorney and legislative advocate for the Tennessee Association of Legal Services and has taught at MTSU.

Linda is Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. She joined the commission in 1988. Under her leadership, it has focused on improving the state's long term prosperity, encouraging healthy economic and child development, and helping children be safe, healthy, educated, nurtured and engaged in activities that promote success in school and life.

March 30. 2017

Jim Henry Receives Award for a Lifetime Dedication to Public Service

Jim HenryAt the NASW-TN Social Work Day on the Hill celebration, the chapter announced a special new award: the Lifetime Dedication to Public Service award. The recipient of this new aware was Jim Henry, Deputy and Chief of Staff to the Governor.

Upon presenting the award, Dr. Sherry Cummings (Associate Dean for Academics in the College) noted that "It's difficult to imagine anyone more deserving of this recognition than Mr. Henry. Throughout his long and distinguished career in state and local government and the private sector, he has worked tirelessly to protect and improve the lives of our state's most vulnerable citizens."

Jim Henry's record of service includes his longtime membership on the UT College of Social Work's Board of Visitors. In addition, he served in the state of Tennessee legislature from 1980-1990 and joined Governor Haslam's administration in 2011.

February 23, 2017

Longtime College of Social Work supporter, Susan Cooper, makes major gift to create the Social Justice Innovation Initiative.

The Social Justice Innovation Initiative offers a unique framework for understanding many of society's most pressing issues around education, healthcare, and social justice. The mission is ambitious but clear: work to shape and elevate the conversation surrounding these issues through rigorous research, public outreach, expert testimony, and innovative education.

By building a coalition of partners and fellows across academic disciplines and with other universities, policy makers, and legislators, the Initiative will strive to address some of society's most pressing problems. The Social Justice Innovation Initiative will disseminate the latest knowledge and skills to social service practitioners, thus improving the quality of services to provider organizations and clients in Tennessee and across the nation.

The Social Justice Innovation Initiative will also collaborate with researchers, policy makers, legislators, and practitioners to influence and transform policy for lasting social change, and will invite legislators, policy practitioners, and researchers to become Fellows of the Social Justice Innovation Initiative. The Initiative will host/sponsor a conference or symposium annually to highlight at least one of the Grand Challenges for Social Work.

Susan CooperAs the oldest of four children, Nashville native Susan Cooper learned that there were many ways to see the world. Despite living side by side, the six members of her household each developed a unique way to approach life’s issues. Over time she came to understand the ways that complex social problems may affect individuals and families. Susan says she sees two logical paths toward finding solutions. "The first path is to invest in continuing education for Social Work professionals who have day-to-day influence with individuals as they cope with the complexities of their lives. The second approach is to create a forum for discussing he policies, programs, and research that shape our society."

In order to contribute to the overall goal of achieving social justice, Susan is pleased to support the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. Her contribution will enable the College to fund the development and delivery of post-master’s certificate programs and to provide a public platform for thought-leaders seeking to advance the agenda set out in the Grand Challenges for Social Work. (See more information about the Grand Challenges at: )

Susan Cooper graduated from Carson Newman with a degree in Mathematics. Her business career included operations, policy development, and human resource management at BellSouth Corporation, (now AT&T). Susan is now a nature photographer who lives at the boundary of the Great Smoky Moutains National Park. She is generous with her time and resources as a weekly trail volunteer in the park and by serving as president of the Townsend Artisan Guild. She supports learning and development through giving to the Thornton Center at UT, the Tremont Institute and the Student Conservation Association.

In 2015 Susan Cooper and Freida Herron provided the funding for an endowed professorship in mental health practice and research. Dr. David A. Patterson, director of the college's DSW program, was chosen as the first recipient of this professorship.

January 26, 2017

Nashville Assistant Professor Thereasa Abrams Develops Phone App for Burn Survivors in Multi-Disciplinary Effort

Thereasa Abrams, PhD, has joined the UT College of Social Work, Nashville Campus this year as an Assistant Professor. In addition to her teaching work here at UT, Abrams is continuing her research on the needs of individuals who have experienced medical trauma especially those who have sustained traumatic burn injuries.

Dr. Theresa Abrams"I am very excited about the team of visionaries here at UT who want to create a product that works well and looks very professional," says Abrams about the individuals who are committed to completing this project.

As a survivor of traumatic burn injury herself, Teri Abrams knows the challenges that patients face. Generally, burn centers are regional, so when people leave the hospital for home, they are nervous. The UT team envisions an app that lives on the phones of patients so that they can access support at any moment.

Read more about this project.

January 9, 2017

Nashville Asst. Professor April Mallory writes about The Criminalization of Addiction in Pregnancy

April Mallory, Assistant Professor of Practice at the Nashville Campus of the UT College of Social Work, is the author of an article that has been published in the Winter 2017 issue of The New Social Worker.

April MalloryThe article entitled "The Criminalization of Addiction in Pregnancy: Is This What Justice Looks Like?" considers the harsh reality for many pregnant women with addiction to prescription drugs. It looks at Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, treatment options, policy considerations, and recommendations for improving individual and community practice.

April Mallory, MSW, LCSW, is a social worker with many years of experience working within the psychiatric and criminal justice systems. She evaluates impaired physicians as part of the team at Vanderbilt's Comprehensive Assessment Program and is an assistant professor of practice at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.


Click here for older items in the News Archives.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.