Welcome to the Department of Social Work

The Social Work program here at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is proud to have delivered quality Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) education since 1976. As we enter our 40th year, we are more excited than ever about the opportunities we offer students. As Department Chair, let me take a few moments to introduce you to the very real reasons that we are extremely optimistic for the future of Social Work here at UAB.


A major reason for my optimism is exciting developments in our BSW program. This fall, we will begin seeking applicants for our new Social Work Honors Program. Led by field director Chris Walker, our best students will have the opportunity to be mentored one-to-one with our faculty, and to have research and practice evaluation experiences tailored to take advantage of their unique talents. We are also entering the second year of our Speaker’s Series and Brown Bag luncheons. Last year we had exciting and well-attended talks, including ones on public housing (see that talk on YouTube) and disaster mental health. We also co-sponsored a Town Hall meeting about Police-Community relations with the African American Studies program. And this year will bring even more excitement!

By the way, the rumor that you heard about our department is true. We are in the process of creating a Master of Social Work (MSW) program! Last January the Board of Trustees unanimously gave us permission to create an MSW focusing on Health and Mental Health Practice. We anticipate having our first cohort of MSW students in the Fall of 2017. We are busy working on a full proposal and accreditation, developing what we believe is a unique and innovative program. I will lead a Brown Bag in the Spring (as I did last year) to update you on details. If you are a current BSW student, or always wished you had gone back to school, here is your opportunity!

The changes and growth we have planned will continue for the foreseeable future. We are in the process of a groundbreaking assessment of our on-line programs and providing additional training on teaching to all our instructors, as part of what we have labelled our “Promoting Excellence in Education” initiative. We are developing new opportunities for our BSWs in non-profit management training (look for an announcement on that soon). We are implementing exciting new instructional methods, including expanding our simulation and service-based learning opportunities to improve our practice and other classes. We are creating opportunities for on-line portfolios for our graduates, to help them demonstrates the skills they have achieved here at UAB. And the list goes on and on.


At the heart of every successful program is the faculty. The last two years have seen substantial positive growth and change in our department. We have added three outstanding faculty members:
  • Margie Gilbert, a graduate of our program and head of our Alumni Association, has joined us as a visiting professor.
  • Dr. Omar Sims and Dr. Scott Batey, two new assistant professors, bring in strong records as both teachers and researchers. Many students and alums will likely know Dr. Batey, who has been one of our excellent adjunct faculty for close to a decade.

We also are pleased to have seen the appointment of Dr. Yookyong Lee to associate professor with tenure, a well-earned promotion.

Additionally, we are excited by some significant achievements by our faculty. Dr. Lisa Baker recently published an outstanding book on disaster preparedness. Dr. Laurel Hitchcock was appointed a Faculty Fellow for Engaged Scholarship at the Center for Teaching & Learning. We look forward to continued growth and achievement in the near future.

Chat with the Chair

To me, the essence of any educational experience is community. The core of any community is the interchange among all members — potential and current students, faculty, and alumni. I invite you to come visit us. Every second and fourth Monday from 10 a.m. to noon, my door will be open to anyone wanting to discuss our program. Or, if that doesn’t work, make an appointment by calling (205) 975-4938 or send us an email. Or attend any of our numerous events — our faculty and students will be there. Or simply check back frequently on our newly redesigned webpage to keep abreast of all the events and changes.

We welcome you to be part of our future!

David Pollio.
Dr. David E. Pollio
Distinguished Professor and Department Chair