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Faculty members transition to new roles within the School of Social Work

Evelyn "Evi" Taylor, Ph.D.
Evelyn “Evi” Taylor, Ph.D.

Evelyn “Evi” Taylor, Ph.D., has been named the School of Social Work’s new associate dean for MSW education. Taylor, whose appointment is effective July 1, is the second School of Social Work faculty member to hold the position. She follows Lisa de Saxe Zerden, Ph.D., who has served in the leadership role since 2016. Zerden is stepping down from this administrative post to resume her full-time tenure track faculty position, effective June 30.

Taylor joined the School as a clinical assistant professor in 2019 after serving as MSW director and co-chair of the Social Work Department at Arkansas State University for five years. She brings nearly 10 years of experience in social work education and leadership to her new School role, along with 27 years of social work practice experience, including a significant clinical practice background.

Taylor has published, presented, conducted research, and led funded grant projects pertaining to social work pedagogy, critical race theory, simulation education, and child and family service approaches – experience that will serve as an asset in her role as associate dean, noted Denby-Brinson.

“Dr. Taylor has enthusiastically articulated an innovative vision for expanding our MSW curriculum and for developing strong future-ready social work leaders and practitioners. We are excited about Dr. Taylor’s leadership.”

Zerden returns to teaching

Lisa de Saxe Zerden, Ph.D.
Lisa de Saxe Zerden, Ph.D.

Zerden came to the School of Social Work as an adjunct faculty member in 2010. Over the last 12 years, she has continued pursuing her own research, which focuses on the social drivers of health, including disparities that exacerbate drug use and behavioral health conditions, while also embracing other leadership roles within the School. In 2015, she was named associate dean for academic affairs and two years later, she was awarded the John A. Tate Early Career Scholar for Children in Need professorship.

Denby-Brinson called Zerden an “exemplary leader,” who has guided the School through several accreditation and reaffirmation processes and helped develop the School’s technical and performance standards, which serve as a model for other graduate and professional schools on campus. Over the past six years, she also has worked closely with other associate deans and academic leaders to implement an anti-oppressive framework, helping to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion within the School’s MSW curriculum.

Moreover, Denby-Brinson noted Zerden’s ability to balance leadership with scholarship, including her work as principal investigator for UNC-PrimeCare, a federally funded project that focuses on improving the nation’s behavioral health services by training social workers to work in integrated healthcare settings.

“With Lisa’s impressive body of work, it comes as no surprise that she has had a remarkable impact on our School’s ability to navigate through many challenges in recent years,” Denby-Brinson added. “We continue to be a national leader in social work education due in significant part to Lisa’s influence on our curriculum, our people, and our reputation. We are grateful for your commitment to our School and its mission, and we look forward to your continued contributions as a faculty member.”