Noted scholar, experienced administrator to be SSW dean


Kathryn Elizabeth (Beth) Angell, an experienced dean with a strong equity and social justice track record, will be the next dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.

Kathryn Elizabeth (Beth) Angell
Beth Angell

Her appointment, approved by the Board of Regents on Feb. 17, is effective July 1 and runs through June 30, 2027.

Angell, who was selected for the position after a national search, joins the university with a distinguished career in academic social work. Her research and teaching focus on service delivery for adults with serious mental illness, and the intersection of mental illness with legal and justice system involvement.

Joseph A. Himle has served as interim dean of the school since January.

“Professor Angell is an accomplished scholar whose work is an important contribution to our understanding of the impacts of mental illness, a critical concern in our society,” said Susan M. Collins, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, who recommended the appointment.

“She is also an engaged educator and an innovative leader. Her deep commitment to access and equity is evident in all of her work. We look forward to the knowledge, thoughtfulness and energy she will contribute to the university and the communities beyond in her service as dean.”

Angell currently is dean of the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and comes to U-M with nearly three decades of experience in the field of social work.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected for the deanship of the U-M School of Social Work, a dynamic school renowned for its distinction in educating social workers and developing cutting-edge knowledge to change society,” Angell said.

“It will be a privilege working alongside faculty, staff, students and community partners to craft a vision that amplifies the school’s commitment to excellence, engagement and impact as it enters its second century.”

As dean of the VCU School of Social Work, Angell led the growth of the school’s academic programs, including development of a fully online master’s degree in the social work program, leading to an increase in total school enrollment of more than 40 percent.

She also launched a schoolwide effort to embrace a racial justice and equity agenda, including the adoption of a statement of commitment to social and racial justice, the formation of a racial justice and equity task force, development and funding of student leadership fellowships in racial justice, and convening initiatives to revise curriculum and overhaul methods for assessing student climate.

Under her direction, VCU’s graduate program increased five places in the U.S. News & World Report rankings and its operating budget and fundraising levels reached record highs.

In 2000, Angell joined the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago as an assistant professor, where she was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2007. During her time at the University of Chicago, she served as a faculty affiliate of the Center for Health Administration Studies and executive committee member of the National Consortium on Stigma and Empowerment.

In 2008, Angell joined Rutgers University, New Brunswick as an associate professor in the School of Social Work and faculty member in the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. She was appointed chair of the faculty in the School of Social Work from 2015-18. In 2018, Angell became a professor and dean at the VCU School of Social Work.

Angell received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned a Master of Science degree in social work with a sub-concentration in severe and persistent mental illness, followed by a doctorate in social welfare, both from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Her research on mental health service delivery has been continuously funded by federal, state and foundation sources, including by a Young Investigator Award from the NARSAD Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mandated Community Treatment, and the National Institute of Mental Health-funded Center on Adherence and Self-Determination.

Angell’s work also has been published in a variety of journals in the fields of social work, psychiatry and the sociology of mental health.


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