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Three faculty members named Wallace Kuralt Early Career Professors

Associate Professors Gina Chowa, Ph.D.; Trenette Clark Goings, Ph.D.; and Gary Cuddeback, Ph.D., have been selected to receive the School of Social Work’s newly established Wallace Kuralt Early Career Professorship.

The awards, which were approved by the UNC Board of Trustees, were created late last year to help enhance junior faculty salaries and support research and scholarly interests. The professorships, which come with a combined stipend and research fund of $12,500 each, will be available to recipients annually for five years or until the faculty members are promoted to the rank of full professor. The awards are supported from private donations from the School of Social Work’s Wallace H. Kuralt Early Professorship Fund.

School Dean Jack M. Richman requested that the University create the professorship to acknowledge a faculty member’s high level of productivity in teaching, publishing, research, and service as well as overall contributions to the School of Social Work community, including through mentoring of other junior faculty and doctoral students. Richman recommended that Chowa, Goings and Cuddeback be the first group of faculty members to receive the honor.

“It was really not a hard choice for me because these are three very productive people who are doing amazing work and who I believe would be looked at seriously at a number of other schools given all that they bring to the table,” Richman said. “So this was just a way to recognize them and hope that it’s enough to keep them here. I really see it as a way of using our private resources to support our faculty.”

Chowa, who came to Carolina in 2008, is considered a rising star within the field of asset building because of her groundbreaking work in examining the effects of asset ownership on youth and families in resource-limited countries. Chowa’s research, which has been supported by the MasterCard Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Chronic Poverty Research Centre in London and the UNC Center for AIDS Research, mainly centers around developing holistic and impactful interventions that positively affect the root causes of poverty and health disparities around the globe.

Last year, she was one of four highly promising Carolina faculty members awarded the 2014 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty. Since joining the School, she has also received the Excellence in Doctoral Students Mentoring Award, the Dean’s Recognition of Teaching Excellence Award and the Most Innovative HIV/AIDS Research award.

“I am honored to receive this award, which recognizes the value of my work and research, and appreciate the continued support of Dean Richman,” Chowa said.

Goings, who joined the School in 2010, has gained recognition for her achievements as a young scholar in the substance use field. Her work, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses broadly on reducing health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. To achieve this goal, Goings studies the epidemiology and etiology of health-risk behaviors, primarily substance use, among African American, Afro-Caribbean and biracial adolescents. Her research targets groups disproportionately affected by substance misuse and HIV but for whom few evidence-based programs are available.

Since arriving at the School, Goings has received the Society for Social Work and Research Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Scholar award.

“This award is not only a reflection of my accomplishments but of my supportive environment that includes Dean Richman, Matthew Howard, and so many others here at UNC and at other universities,” Goings said. “I hope to build on this award by using the most rigorous research methods available to conduct science with the goal of identifying and preventing social and health disparities.”

Cuddeback, who joined the School faculty in 2008, is considered a leading national expert in examining the connection between mental illness and the criminal justice system. His research agenda focuses on growing the evidence-base for interventions that have the potential to improve the lives of persons with severe mental illness and making these interventions accessible to those who are on the front lines of direct service. His research is vitally important to the profession of social work as it addresses critical issues that are of major public health significance.

Over the years, Cuddeback’s work has been supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation. His research is focused on interventions for persons with severe mental illness, especially those who are involved with the justice system and who have chronic physical health conditions.

Most recently, he has worked closely with the North Carolina Departments of Public Safety and Health and Human Services to expand a program that aims to provide support to probation officers who are supervising offenders with mental illness.

Cuddeback said he is “honored and humbled” to be selected for the early career professorship award. “I am thankful for the excellent mentorship I have received throughout my career, and I have benefited greatly from the support of Dean Richman here at the School of Social Work.”