Dean Jeffrey Edleson Begins Final Year as Dean

August 16, 2018

Jeff EdlesonDear Social Welfare Community,

This starts my seventh and final year as your dean. It has been my honor to be your dean during such a period of significant change in the life of the School and a full circle in my career that started right here in Haviland Hall as an undergraduate research assistant to Eileen Gambrill almost 45 years ago.  Reading Nina George’s novel The Little Paris Bookshop this past year I found a line that has stayed with me as my wife, Sudha, and I have contemplated our own futures. It was a conversation in the book where a woman says she works “in an agency with guys past their sell-by dates” (p. 35). I don’t think my sell-by date has arrived but I don’t want to be a person who overstays my usefulness. Having turned 65 this spring my sell-by date is clearly on the horizon, so I choose to leave my role as dean now when the School is doing really well.  It is time for fresh leadership to work with you to continue the School’s journey forward.

Several deans across the country congratulated me when I accepted this deanship in 2012 and told me “Berkeley matters”. Berkeley Social Welfare does matter! We matter because we are one of the strongest public university social work programs in the world. More importantly, we generate scholarship and scholars, policy makers and practitioners who challenge conventional wisdom and take leadership positions throughout California and around the world. What we do here matters to many beyond the walls of Haviland Hall, especially for those without a strong voice in our society. We are small but we are also mighty and our society needs our voices and ideas now more than ever.

These last six years have been great ones for Berkeley Social Welfare. I am so proud of the work we have done and see the School as set for great achievements in the coming years. All of our collaborative work contributes to our undergraduate program repeatedly being ranked #1 in the country and our MSW program ranked repeatedly in the top four programs nationally. Our faculty has been ranked as one of the most impactful group of scholars in our field. These are no small feats for a professional school of our small size.

Social welfare education started in Berkeley 100 years ago. There have been many faculty, students, staff, alumni, and deans who have occupied our roles throughout this history. I know the School will continue to thrive in the future and am so honored to have played a small role in further strengthening this wonderful place. This will be a great time to recruit a new dean to become your leader. I look forward this year to continued growth, helping us identify a new dean, and to then taking a one-year sabbatical starting in July 2019 and returning as a faculty member in Fall 2020.