News of the School


Comings and Goings

Rachel Blane joined our resource management team as a staff assistant. Blane was previously with UB’s Office of Student Accounts for over three years, where her most recent title was residency coordinator.

Joshua Hine has accepted the position of assistant director for student services. He comes to us from The College at Brockport where he served as the second year experience coordinator.

Lina R. Vinder has joined UBSSW as the new director of academic processes and data operations. Vinder comes to us from UB’s Graduate School of Education, where she served in a variety of positions; most recently, for over seven years, she held the title of assistant director of enrollment, research and accreditation.

Alison Grizzard, staff assistant for resource management, has moved out of state to pursue other opportunities.

Director of Academic Processes and Data Operations Leah Feroleto Walsh left to pursue other endeavors and spend more time with family.

Student News

Part-time advanced standing MSW student Megan Carroll participated in World Social Work Day at the United Nations. This event provides students and professionals the opportunity to discuss emerging issues, such as climate change, with the social work profession. Read her blog post about this experience:

MSW graduate Jessica Clark, MSW’18, was awarded a highly competitive fellowship through the Veteran’s Administration. She will be part of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

Recent alum Emily Hammer, MSW’18, received the Western Division NASW MSW Student of the Year 2018 award. This award is given to a student who has demonstrated academic excellence and personifies the values of social work as defined by the NASW Professional Code of Ethics.


Isok Kim was promoted to associate professor. In his research, Kim examines factors influencing the quality of health and well-being among immigrants and refugees in the United States. He is engaged with local refugee communities to conduct community-based participatory research (CBPR), dedicating his time and passion to promote community-driven agendas directly benefitting their community members. His recently published article, "Behavioral health symptoms among refugees from Burma: Examination of sociodemographic and migration-related factors," appeared in the Asian American Journal of Psychology.

For the newly approved doctorate of social work program, Louanne Bakk, assistant clinical professor, has been named director.

Laina Bay-Cheng, associate professor and PhD program director, accepted the position of associate dean for doctoral programs.

National News

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Bowen made national news with her research expertise on homelessness among youth and adults, a topic that is increasingly in the news as homelessness rises. Websites Futurity and Legal Insurrection and newspapers including Utah’s Standard-Examiner, Oregon’s Statesmen Journal, and the Buffalo News were among those reporting.

Assistant Professor Noelle St. Vil was quoted, and her ongoing research regarding intimate partner violence and its lingering emotional damage was referenced, in an article on the website Psych Central, as well as in articles on other sites, including Science Daily, Medical Xpress and ScienMag.

Faculty Achievements

Clinical assistant professor Todd Sage was accepted to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Education Program (ADEP) for social work faculty. With support from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the program trains social work faculty and educates social work graduate students in empirically supported alcohol and other drug (AOD) identification and treatment methods. It also incorporates AOD content in the curricula of schools of social work nationwide.

Congratulations to Dean Nancy J. Smyth! She has been selected as the University at Albany’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. This award honors extraordinary achievement, national and/or international recognition, or an individual who over the course of a decade or greater has exhibited outstanding success in their profession or in outstanding service to society. Smyth has been dean of the School since 2004; she joined us in 1991 as an assistant professor.

Highlights of her accomplishments since becoming dean include integrating a trauma-informed and human rights perspective throughout the master’s curriculum, establishing the Buffalo Center for Social Research, expanding international education and research, and raising the rankings of the MSW program to the top 10 percent in the United States.

Professor Hilary Weaver was elected to the CSWE Board of Directors as the vice chair/secretary for July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021.

Alumni Achievement

Elizabeth Mauro, MSW ’92, was honored with the 2018 Western Division NASW Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the chief executive officer at Endeavor Health Services and has nearly 30 years of experience in the social work field.

Global & Civic Engagement

As part of the university’s international exchange program, a delegation from the Ukraine that works with women’s health issues, including human trafficking, visited with Associate Professor Gretchen Ely, MSW/PhD, student Erin Bascug and incoming PhD student Honour Odigie. The group discussed our trauma-informed, human right perspective, as well as our curriculum, online program and potential research collaborations.

UBSSW sponsored World Refugee Day in Western New York for the fifth consecutive year. The event was founded by Ali Kadhum, MSW ‘14, and many students and alumni continue to be involved. In her comments at the event, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor Hilary Weaver noted that the history of social work in the United States is intertwined with the history of immigration. She iterated that through the school’s trauma-informed, human rights perspective, we aim to educate social workers to become allies and advocates; that the UBSSW is proud to stand in solidarity with refugees and immigrants.

New Program

The school is pleased to announce that we will begin offering a doctorate in social work (DSW) degree in social welfare. The professional practice doctorate, versus the PhD, is becoming more sought after across allied health professions. The part-time, fully online program debuts in the fall of 2019.