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Social welfare dean retiring; interim dean announced

Thu, 03/13/2014

LAWRENCE — Mary Ellen Kondrat, who joined the University of Kansas as dean of the School of Social Welfare in 2006, will step down June 1 after eight years leading the school.

Jeffrey S. Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor, has named Tom McDonald, professor and associate dean of Social Welfare, interim dean and announced a nationwide search for Kondrat’s successor.

“Dean Kondrat has created a lasting legacy at KU by greatly expanding the reach of the School of Social Welfare to communities all across Kansas,” Vitter said. “She has attracted national attention through the creation of new research centers like the Assets and Education Initiative, and through enhancing the school’s existing school research centers. The School of Social Welfare ranks among the top programs in the nation, reflective of the high standard she has set for her successor.”

Kondrat joined KU in July 2006 after serving as dean of the School of Social Work at Louisiana State University. Prior to that, she was associate dean and director of the Master of Social Work Program at The Ohio State University College of Social Work. She has been teaching in the field of social work since 1990. Her final day as dean at KU will be June 1, and her final day as a faculty member will be Aug. 17.

“I have been blessed at KU with great faculty and staff, and a wonderful group of supporters of the school, including the school’s advisory board. It has been a privilege and a joy to serve as dean of this outstanding School of Social Welfare,” Kondrat said.

Under Kondrat’s leadership, the School of Social Welfare doubled and diversified its external funding for research, created a competency-based curriculum, increased program accessibility by initiating the first master’s program at KU taught partially online, expanded the MSW program to western Kansas with programs in Hays and Garden City, and tripled the number of students able to participate in the school’s study abroad offerings.

Among the existing School of Social Welfare centers enhanced during her tenure are the Center for Mental Health Research and Innovation, Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options, and Center for Children & Families.

McDonald joined the KU faculty in 1988 as an associate professor. He has been professor of social welfare since 1996 and has served as associate dean for research since 2000. His appointment as interim dean will begin June 1 and extend through June 30, 2015, while a national search for a new dean is underway.

“All of us at the School of Social Welfare are grateful for Dean Kondrat’s years of service to KU,” McDonald said. “She has been an outstanding leader and colleague, and I look forward to maintaining our school’s exciting forward momentum during the search for our next dean.”



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