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Friday, May 14, 2021
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Second dean in one week resigns to return to faculty role

Dean of the UB School of Social Work Nancy Smith will step down from her job following the spring 2021 semester

<p>The UB School of Social Work building on South Campus.</p>

The UB School of Social Work building on South Campus.

UB School of Social Work Dean Nancy Smyth will step down as dean and assume a faculty role following the spring 2021 semester. She is the second dean to resign this week, after School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Dean James O'Donnell resigned on Oct. 14.

O’Donnell and Smyth did not specify their reasons for stepping down. Both deans will return to faculty roles as professor of pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacology and toxicology and professor of social work respectively, according to a UBNow press release. 

The search for replacements for both decanal positions will begin later this semester.

Smyth was appointed as dean in 2004 after joining the school in 1991 as an assistant professor from SUNY Albany. During her 16 years as dean, the school jumped from No. 46 to No. 25 in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. The school is now ranked in the top 10% nationally.  

“Nancy has led the school in using technology to enhance student learning and access while innovating the social work profession,” Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs A. Scott Weber said. “She increased the use of digital media to expand the school’s reach and impact, raising the school’s social media presence and introducing a nationally renowned podcast.”

Under her leadership, the school established its first international research partnership with Amrita University in India creating the UB/Amrita Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute. The school has also joined a trauma-informed, human rights perspective throughout its curriculum, expanded international education, established the Buffalo Center for Social Research to support faculty research, and launched an online doctorate in social welfare program in 2019 and an online master of social work program in 2013.

“I have loved serving as dean,” Smyth said. “We have a remarkable group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and donors. It’s been my honor to serve all of them, and the university, these past 16 years.”

Weber described Smyth as an “excellent” dean and university leader for “significantly” advancing each of UB’s educational, research and engagement missions. He said she is leaving the school “well-positioned” to build on its success for “years to come.” 

Smyth says she is still eager to work on a “range” of initiatives within the school. 

“I am ‘all in’ as part of the UB School of Social Work to work on a range of initiatives in the school: racial justice, social work futures and innovation, and technology for social good,” Smyth said. “I simply want to do it from a different role. I am looking forward to returning to the faculty, launching a new path for my own work and supporting a new dean.”

Alexandra Moyen is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at and on Twitter @AlexandraMoyen

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Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.



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