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Zerden, Zimmerman, Howard appointed to new roles

Three faculty members at UNC School of Social Work have been promoted to new leadership roles.

Lisa de Saxe Zerden, Ph.D., will serve in a newly created post, senior associate dean for MSW education; Sheryl Zimmerman, Ph.D., will serve as associate dean for research and faculty development, and Matthew Howard, Ph.D., will serve as associate dean for doctoral education.

“Lisa, Sheryl and Matthew are all successful scholars in their own right and have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that our School graduates highly prepared social work practitioners and researchers who are skilled in evidence-informed practice,” said Dean Gary Bowen. “I am confident that, with their leadership and vision, our School will grow even stronger as a top-ranked social work program.”

Zerden came to UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010 and was named associate dean for academic affairs in 2015. She serves as a clinical associate professor and as principal investigator and program director for UNC-PrimeCare, a federally funded initiative that aims to expand the behavioral healthcare workforce by rigorously preparing students to work in primary care settings as behavioral and mental healthcare specialists. Zerden’s work, which also focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention, substance use and social welfare policy, has been published in the Journal of Social Work Education, Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, Advances in Social Work, Journal of Ethnicity and Substance Abuse and others. She received her MSW from UCLA and her Ph.D. in social work and sociology at Boston University.

“Lisa has impressed me with her leadership on our master’s-level curriculum development and our accreditation activities,” Bowen said. “I’m pleased that she is willing to step into this new role, and I know she will continue to thrive as a leader.”

Zimmerman has served on the faculty since 1997 and is a Kenan Distinguished Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2012, she was named associate dean for doctoral education. She also serves as senior research scientist and co-director for the Program on Aging, Disability and Long-term Care at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Over the last 20 years, Zimmerman has developed and overseen thriving research and mentorship programs in the Sheps Center. She will focus on research leadership and mentorship in her new role with the School of Social Work.

“Sheryl is nationally known for her work in geriatrics and gerontology,” said Bowen. “She’s served as principal investigator on more than 60 research grants from a diverse range of foundations, businesses and national organizations, and she has published more than 300 manuscripts. She’s a natural choice to lead our research initiatives.”

Howard, who has served on the faculty since 2007, is the Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor for Human Services Policy Information and a faculty research fellow for the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. From 2012 to 2015, he was the School’s associate dean for faculty development. Prior to coming to Chapel Hill, Howard was a faculty member at the University of Michigan. His areas of expertise include inhalant substance abuse/disorders, substance use among juvenile offenders, alcohol dependence, psychiatric disorders among inhalant users, psychopathy among adolescent female offenders, and integrating evidence-based practice. Howard currently serves on the editorial boards of more than 30 academic journals and as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Addictive Diseases. He previously served as the editor-in-chief of Social Work Research, the flagship journal of the National Association of Social Workers, and as the North American editor for the British Journal of Social Work, a publication of the British Association of Social Workers. In 2010, he was elected as a member and fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. In 2013, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The following year, he was inducted as a fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research.

“Matthew is a highly regarded social work scholar who has played an instrumental role in both teaching in the doctoral program and in mentoring doctoral students,” Bowen said. “He is an exceptional and committed teacher, and he is highly sought out by doctoral students as an advisor, committee member and chair. He is the perfect faculty member to direct the doctoral program.”

The appointments are effective as of October 2016.