News of the School


Comings and Goings

Clara Bradizza, formerly a senior research scientist at UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, joined UBSSW in the fall as a professor.

Tracey Eastman joined UBSSW as director of communications; over the last 16 years, she worked in UB’s university communications and student affairs departments.

Director of Continuing Education Lesa Fichte has retired. Fichte has been with the SSW since 2004; under her direction the Office of Continuing Education served over 3,000 people annually, while remaining financially healthy. Fichte led the program during a period of disruptions across the social work industry, all the while offering her colleagues, including the dean, helpful insights.

Senior Director of Advancement, Health Sciences, Mary Glenn left UB after over 20 years aiding advancement efforts. She accepted the position of vice president of institutional advancement at Daemen College in Buffalo, NY.

After 25 years with UBSSW, Associate Professor Kathleen Kost retired. Kost’s research focused on Tanzanian community development initiatives; her work was instrumental in establishing student field placements there. During her tenure, Kost held many leadership positions in the school, including director of the UB Institute for Nonprofit Agencies, interdisciplinary programs and the MSW program. She also served as associate dean for academic affairs, and most recently interim undergraduate studies coordinator.

Director of data analysis in the Buffalo Center for Social Research Eugene Maguin left after 21 years of dedicated service; he will join the research team in the UB Department of Psychology.

Student Services Advisor Jenell Spitale joined UBSSW in the summer. She previously worked at Buffalo State College in the Career Development Center.

Paul Stasiewicz, formerly a senior research scientist at UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, became a SSW professor and the Janet B. Wattles Endowed Chair this fall.


Laina Bay-Cheng was promoted to professor and has accepted the leadership role of associate dean for faculty development. With these changes she will be stepping down from her role as PhD program director and associate dean for doctoral programs. Professor Deborah Waldrop previously expertly served as our associate dean for faculty development for the past seven years.

Louanne Bakk was promoted to clinical associate professor and was also named our DSW program director, which enrolled its first cohort this fall.

Associate Professor Filomena Critelli was named undergraduate studies coordinator with the retirement of Kathleen Kost.

Gretchen Ely, promoted to professor over the summer, was also named associate dean for academic affairs after Professor Hilary Weaver moved into the role of associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion.

Annette Semanchin Jones was promoted to associate professor and accepted the PhD program director position.

Associate Professor Isok Kim stepped into the role of MSW program director this past summer, when Associate Professor Diane Elze went back to teaching and research, after spending the past 11 years dedicated to the role.

Patricia Logan-Greene was promoted to associate professor and is the Child Advocacy Studies Micro-Credential coordinator.

Student News

In March 2019, MSW students traveled with staff member Pat Shelly to Albany, NY, to promote the passage of two bills, Racial Equity Assessment in Legislation and Social Work Investment Initiative.

Faculty Achievements

Professor Hilary Weaver presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as a member of the International Federation of Social Workers delegation; the theme was “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission and protection.”

National News

An article on NBC News about Lily, a new “Sesame Street” character intended to offer help and hope to the growing number of children across the U.S. experiencing homelessness, interviews Assistant Professor Elizabeth Bowen, an expert on homelessness. “When people think of homelessness, they think of the stereotypical image of an older man on the street, but in fact there are a lot more families with children than people think in homelessness or on the brink of homelessness,” she said. "Homelessness isn’t a failing of the parent or the family, but a failing of society. Anything that can help change that narrative is good." The article also appeared in The Sun in England, Ireland and Scotland, and in California’s Central Coast KSBY-TV.

An article in USA Today about the increase in more restrictive abortion legislation in the U.S. and the growing number of women who are reaching out to Aid Access, an online organization that offers abortion pills internationally, interviews Professor Gretchen Ely. "The more people are restricted, the more likely that they are going to try to manage an abortion on their own," she said. "So instead of it being a pre-Roe situation with objects, they’re going to be looking to manage it with medication. More often, it will be unsupervised." Ely added that more women turning to unsupervised means of managing their own abortions is a concerning trend. It's far preferable, she said, for women to get abortions with the advice of medical professionals.

An article on Futurity reports on research by Assistant Professor Christopher St. Vil, that suggests that among men of color, Hispanic males were two times more likely to have a fatal interaction with police in neighborhoods that have a high percentage of Hispanic residents, and police agencies with more Hispanic officers were associated with higher odds of Hispanic fatalities. Articles also appeared in news outlets including PhysOrg, ScienMag and 7th Space.

Global & Civic Engagement

After just under two weeks in Rwanda in June, Laura Lewis, clinical associate professor, director of field education and assistant dean for global partnerships, and Kristin Rivera, a consultant at the School’s Institute on Trauma and Trauma-informed Care (ITTIC), returned with good prospects for building collaborative relationships with universities, agencies and communities in the African country. There, Lewis and Rivera met with academics from social work and psychology, as well as professionals, learning about how the country is coping several decades after experiencing a genocide that killed over a million people. They learned that some of the main issues (trauma, identity and reconciliation) are being addressed with a similar trauma-informed language that has been integrated into the SSW curriculum and philosophy. “They see their next step as applying the TI-informed model to services,” said Lewis. “Our vision is to eventually bring UBSSW students to work with students there, perhaps using a ‘train-the-trainer’ model so that their new generation of social workers can go into the communities and help them continue to address their trauma.”

New Program

Beginning in the fall 2019, SSW is offering courses in a new undergraduate minor in Community Organizing and Development, open to all undergraduate majors. Students will learn to help build economically and socially just communities and work in unity with others to find solutions that empower citizens. Learn more at