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School to host first in-person graduation ceremony since pandemic

The UNC School of Social Work will honor and celebrate its 2022 graduating class of MSW and Ph.D. students in a commencement ceremony on May 7, 2022 at Memorial Hall on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. This is the first in-person ceremony that the School has hosted since May of 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous two ceremonies were held virtually.

More than 135 MSW students and six Ph.D. students will be recognized this year.

The ceremony is an important milestone for the social work community, said Lisa de Saxe Zerden, senior associate dean for MSW education.

“The students walking across the stage this year are members of cohorts whose time on campus was inevitably impacted by COVID-19,” she said. “By being together for this ceremony, we celebrate their success matriculating through the MSW program. We also recognize the extra effort and adaptability that was required because of the pandemic’s disruptions and interruptions.”

The School community will host a reception for the graduating doctoral students on Friday, May 6 and announce the recipient of the 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Award. This year’s Ph.D. graduates are: Annie Maria Francis, Ting Guan, Brooke Nicole Lombardi, Jonathan James Phillips, Anjalee Sharma and Melissa Lydia Villodas.

“The six students who are graduating this year are studies in perseverance and excellence,” noted Mimi Chapman, associate dean for doctoral education. “They are graduating having done deeply meaningful dissertations despite the extraordinary circumstances of the past two years.  They have been good colleagues to each other and to the students that follow them.

“They represent areas ranging from cancer care, mental health disparities, opioid misuse, child welfare, perinatal health, and youth development. They are game changers, creative, community engaged, and deeply committed to social work values.   I could not have more admiration for them or confidence in what lies ahead for them.”

Commencement Address

James Moore III, Ph.D.James Moore III, a world leader in the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion, will present this year’s  commencement address. Moore is the vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at The Ohio State University and serves as the first executive director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male. He is also the inaugural EHE Distinguished Professor of Urban Education in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

“Dr. Moore is considered one of the leading voices in the academy for addressing structural racism and creating inclusive environments,” praised School of Social Work Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson. “His work has led him to receive hundreds of accolades, most recently, the ACE Award for diversity leadership. His wisdom around advancing equity leadership and creating a legacy of culture transformation will surely speak to our students.”

From 2015 to 2017, Moore served as a program director for Broadening Participation in Engineering in the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, and from 2011 to 2015, he was an associate provost for diversity and inclusion at The Ohio State University, where he managed numerous programs and units.

Internationally recognized for his work on African American males, Moore’s research focuses on school counseling, gifted education, urban education, higher education, multicultural education/counseling, and STEM education. From 2018 to 2021, he was cited by Education Week as one of the 200 most influential scholars and researchers in the United States, who inform educational policy, practice, and reform.

Moore has developed a national reputation as a thought leader on important educational public policy topics and has been invited to share his expertise to various K-12 school systems, universities, professional associations, and governmental and non-profit agencies.

A co-editor of five books with over 150 publications, Moore has received more than $25 million in grants, contracts, and gifts. He has presented over 200 scholarly presentations and lectures throughout the United States and other parts of the world, including Brazil, Canada, England, Spain, China, India, Indonesia, and France.

Moore received his B.A. in English education from Delaware State University and his M.A.Ed. and Ph.D. in counselor education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.