Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College
Professor Ron Astor, who holds appointments in the USC School of Social Work and USC Rossier School of Education, has received an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He earned an MA from HUC in 1985, the same year he earned an MSW from the USC School of Social Work through a dual-degree program. Rabbi David Ellenson, president of HUC, said the doctorate expresses the university's pride in Astor's accomplishments on the 25th anniversary of his graduation. "His publications, the leading role he plays in his academic areas, his contributions as a scholar and activist to the State of Israel, his commitments to the highest Jewish values our institution champions, his distinguished service as a faculty member led us to honor him at this time," he said.
Wins AERA Research Award
Ron Astor has received the 2010 Outstanding Research in Counseling Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA) for his co-authorship of "School Violence and Theoretically Atypical Schools: The Principal's Centrality in Orchestrating Safe Schools," published in the American Educational Research Journal. The article, co-written by professor Rami Benbenishty, Bar Ilan University in Israel, and Jose Nunez Estrada, a PhD student at the School of Social Work, examined nine "atypical" schools in Israel that report little campus violence despite operating in very violent communities. The team determined the leadership of the principals in these schools to be the most important variable and found those leaders who emphasized school reform rather than packaged school violence evidence-based programs was the most successful in keeping violence at bay. This is the fourth AERA award Astor has received for his work in school violence research.
Earns Investigator Award to Study Mental Health Transformation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, a competitive, national funding program focused on addressing challenging health policy issues, has selected Professor John Brekke to receive a grant to study mental health system transformation in America. The three-year, $400,000 grant will support the book Brekke is co-authoring about the efforts to transform mental health systems in the United States and the impact of California's Mental Health Services Act on the mental health care system in Los Angeles, which is the largest in the United States. "These prestigious and highly competitive awards are only made to outstanding scholars," Dean Marilyn Flynn said. "John’s work for this award represents an exceptionally fine culmination of his long involvement in this area." Read more...
Selected for Social Work's First Honorific Society
Professor Kathleen Ell has been named an inaugural fellow of the newly formed American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare - the first national society honoring excellence in the research and practice of social work. She is among 30 professionals from universities, institutions and practices nationwide selected to join the academy. Created in 2009 with the support of professional social work organizations such as the Saint Louis Group and the Council on Social Work Education, the organization recognizes distinguished academics and practitioners for "high-impact work that advances social good." Members will participate in national discussions of social policy by serving as experts before Congress and other agencies charged with advancing the public good. "AASWSW fellows reflect the highest values and standards in social work and represent the most outstanding and accomplished in their field." Dean Marilyn Flynn said. Read more...
Promoted to Clinical Professor
Ralph Fertig, the human-rights advocate the Washington Post once dubbed, "the conscience of Washington," has been promoted to full clinical professor at the USC School of Social Work. He joined the school as lecturer on social welfare policy in 2003. The 80-year-old has spent decades working on behalf of the disenfranchised as a federal administrative judge, civil-rights lawyer, social worker and sociologist. Fertig first made headlines in the 1960s when he took an active role in the civil rights movement as a Freedom Rider, member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In the classroom, Fertig believes in giving his social welfare policy students a hands-on learning experience. Last year, he helped them draft a bill that mandates federal agencies reprioritize their funding to help keep homeless children housed with their parents whenever possible, which Rep. Maxine Waters then introduced to Congress.
Earns Honorable Mention for Dissertation
Post-doctoral fellow Erick Guerrero received an honorable mention in the 2010 Society for Social Work and Research Outstanding Dissertation Award competition for his dissertation, entitled, "An Organizational Analysis of the Adoption of Cultural Competence in Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment." He was honored at the Presidential Award Ceremony in San Francisco, where the society commended him for the rigor of his analysis and his contribution to knowledge in social work and social welfare. Guerrero's research focuses on the response of human service organizations to the health and social services needs of Latinos and other vulnerable populations. He joined the USC School of Social Work faculty in 2009 after earning his PhD from the University of Chicago. In June, Guerrero hosted "Responding to the Recession: Meeting Clients' Needs," a symposium for substance abuse treatment services administrators.
Selected for USC Workshop to Premiere Virtual Fitness Games
Associate Professor Maryalice Jordan-Marsh was among a select group of USC faculty chosen by Randolph Hall, USC vice provost for research advancement, to participate in a university-wide workshop spotlighting new media projects and intra-university collaborations. Jordan-Marsh and her counterpart, Marientina Gotsis of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, discussed their two-year collaboration on a suite of physical-fitness and healthy-lifestyle video games sponsored by the health insurance company Humana. The team presented some of their work, including a game that allows players to train avatars for battle by mirroring movements with a motion-sensitive joystick and a mobile phone application that steers users toward healthy meal choices in their neighborhoods. Jordan-Marsh's work attempts to combat the growing obesity epidemic among young people. She and Gotsis are now working on new games as part of The Wellness Partners Study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Celebrated for Life's Work on Aging
Jorge Lambrinos, a policy fellow at the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, was honored by the St. Barnabas Senior Center in recognition of more than three decades spent actively involved in the field of aging. Lambrinos, who retired from USC in May, was presented with the "Behind the Scenes" award during the organization's annual "Evening with the Stars" event. "Jorge Lambrinos has quietly and without much fanfare been instrumental in driving policy and legislative change, as well as developing programs and services that benefit the aging community locally and nationally," St. Barnabas officials said in a statement. Lambrinos also was recognized in the Congressional Record as part of another tribute by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who acknowledged his role in helping to establish the USC Roybal Institute on Aging. Lambrinos spent many years in Washington, D.C. as Congressman Edward R. Roybal's chief of staff, helping the California congressman restore funding for low-cost health programs and expand public housing programs for seniors. After returning to California, Lambrinos was named director of the Roybal Institute for Applied Gerontology at California State University, Los Angeles, and stayed at the helm when it moved to USC in 2007.
Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure
Karen Lincoln has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Lincoln joined the USC School of Social Work in 2007. A prolific researcher, she has devoted much of her work to examining mental health in the African American community, studying how factors like race and ethnicity, stress, social support and negative interaction affect mental health across the life cycle. Lincoln is a former Hartford Scholar and a current scholar with the National Institute of Mental Health's African American Mental Health Research Scientist Program. Her latest NIMH-supported project examines how race, socioeconomic status, social relationships and stress impact depression among African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, Latinos and Asian Americans. Lincoln earned two master's degrees and her doctorate in social work and sociology from the University of Michigan. She came to USC from the University of Washington, where she worked as an assistant professor in the School of Social Work.
Joins USC Roybal Institute on Aging
Associate Professor Karen Lincoln has been named associate director of the Edward R.Roybal Institute on Aging. Her paper examining the relationship between negative interactions with family members and depression levels among elderly African Americans was recently published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Executive Director William Vega said Lincoln's energy, breadth of knowledge concerning geriatrics and solid research background will make her an asset to the Roybal Institute. "Dr.Lincoln will be instrumental in moving the institute's translational research agenda forward and positioning the institute to achieve prominence in the field of aging and beyond," he said.
Promoted to Clinical Associate Professor
Gokul Mandayam has been promoted to clinical associate professor. Mandayam, who joined the USC School of Social Work in 2004, teaches policy courses in the Community Organization, Planning and Administration (COPA) concentration at the Orange County Academic Center. A native of India, Mandayam received his master's degree from Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and his PhD in social work from Arizona State University. His professional interests include public policy and social welfare, as well as finding technological solutions that address the problems of society, organizations and individuals. Before coming to the United States, he consulted for a variety of social development projects in India, from evaluation of fish harvesting practices to government nutrition programs and female infanticide. This summer, Mandayam returned to Mumbai with 27 School of Social Work students as the host of a global immersion trip focusing on entrepreneurship, empowerment and social development in the region.
Selected for Social Work's First Honorific Society
USC School of Social Work Dean Emeritus Rino Patti has been named an inaugural fellow of the newly formed American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare - the first national society honoring excellence in the research and practice of social work. He is among 30 professionals from universities, institutions and practices nationwide selected to join the academy. Created in 2009 with the support of professional social work organizations such as the Saint Louis Group and the Council on Social Work Education, the organization recognizes distinguished academics and practitioners for "high-impact work that advances social good." Members will participate in national discussions of social policy by serving as experts before Congress and other agencies charged with advancing the public good. "AASWSW fellows reflect the highest values and standards in social work and represent the most outstanding and accomplished in their field." Dean Marilyn Flynn said. Read more...
Promoted to Clinical Associate Professor
Michal Sela-Amit has been promoted to clinical associate professor. A social worker and university teacher in her native Israel, Sela-Amit joined the USC School of Social Work faculty as an adjunct lecturer in 2003. She also took on multiple administrative roles, including international student adviser, and was promoted to clinical assistant professor in 2007. Today, Sela-Amit is active in the school's Families and Children concentration with interests in child welfare, family violence, immigration, international social work, practice and qualitative research. Sela-Amit received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Haifa, Israel and her doctorate from the USC School of Social Work. Before arriving in the United States, she held a variety of social work positions, including clinical research practitioner with the Women's League for Israel in the domestic violence unit.
Promoted to Clinical Professor
Doni Whitsett has been promoted to full clinical professor. Whitsett teaches first-year foundation courses in practice and behavior, as well as second-year courses in the Mental Health concentration. A practicing social worker who specializes in neuro-biology, sexuality, personality disorders, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and cults, her vast and varied publication list includes everything from empirical research articles on stepfamilies to theoretical articles on racism and cults. Outside of USC, Whitsett has a private practice in the San Fernando Valley, where she has been treating individuals, couples and families since 1980. She also teaches courses required for state licensure for the Department of Children's Services, the National Association of Social Workers, the Department of Mental Health and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Whitsett received her Master of Social Work degree from Case Western University and her PhD at the USC School of Social Work.
Chairs Social Work Joint Symposium for Field Educators
Clinical Associate Professor Debbie Winters served as the chair and coordinator of the 25th Annual Social Work Joint Symposium, "Maintaining the Essence of Field Education in Hard Economic Times: A Professional and Personal Planning Summit," held at the California Endowment in Los Angeles. A collaboration of local schools of social work, including Azusa Pacific University; California State University, Dominguez Hills; California State University, Fullerton; California State University, Los Angeles; California State University, Long Beach; California State University, Northridge; University of California, Los Angeles; and University of Southern California, the annual meeting convened more than 200 field education faculty members, instructors, students and professionals.
Receives Grant to Prevent Psychological Problems in Children from Military Families
Assistant Dean and Clinical Professor of Field Education Marleen Wong will use a $1.8 million federal grant to help prevent long-term mental-health disturbances, including post-traumatic stress disorder, from developing among children in military families. Wong and her partners at RAND, UCLA Health Services Research Center and the Los Angeles Unified School District were awarded funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop trauma interventions for military children that can be implemented during the regular school day. The team will use Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools, a program Wong helped develop nearly a decade ago to treat thousands of students suffering from PTSD after experiencing neighborhood, school and family violence. The researchers have received a total of $5.2 million in grants since 2002. Read more...
Selected as Government Expert in Disaster Mental Health
Marleen Wong has been identified as a subject matter expert in the area of at-risk populations by the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB). The NBSB is a federal advisory committee tasked with providing expert advice to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on matters related to public health emergency preparedness and response. In this role, Wong may be called upon to provide guidance and offer recommendations for protecting, preserving and restoring individual and community mental health in catastrophic events. Frequently consulted by the U.S. Department of Education to assist schools impacted by violence, shootings, terrorism and natural disasters, Wong has intervened after several major crises, from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the Columbine school shootings to the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles and the sniper shootings in Washington, D.C.