Laura Curran, Ph.D., a highly regarded social work educator and researcher, has been selected as the 15th dean of the UConn School of Social Work.
Dr. Curran currently is the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Prior to serving as Vice Provost, Dr. Curran held the position of Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Rutgers University School of Social Work.
She starts her new role as UConn School of Social Work dean on August 11.
Anne D’Alleva, UConn’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced Curran’s appointment in a letter today to the school’s faculty, staff, and students, noting she was a top choice from an “exceptionally talented pool of applicants.”
“Dr. Curran demonstrates a clear understanding of the mission of our School of Social Work, with a commitment to social, racial, and economic justice and the improvement of human well-being, both locally and globally,” D’Alleva says.
“She has led several DEI initiatives and has a record of interdisciplinary collaboration and understands the demands of research and faculty advancement. She is also a strong supporter of students, serving as a mentor for supervised research assistantships for social work graduate students over the last two decades.”
In her role as Vice Provost, Dr. Curran was responsible for strategic initiatives that support faculty leadership, mentoring, recruitment, and retention as well as directing the Center for Faculty Success.
She served as a key member of multiple high-level strategic planning initiatives including the Academic Master Plan, which encompassed initiatives addressing student, faculty, and staff well-being as well as inclusive pedagogy and teaching excellence.
Dr. Curran’s scholarship focuses on three main areas: social work and social welfare history; women’s perinatal health and well-being; and social work education. Her work has received funding from the New Jersey, Department of Health, the New York Community Trust, and the Association of Social Work Boards, among other entities.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to join the UConn community and lead the deeply talented faculty, staff, and students at the UConn School of Social Work,” says Curran. “I hope to build on the School’s incredibly strong foundation, work in close collaboration with our state and community partners, further enhance our research portfolio and educational programs, and advance the school’s social justice mission.”
Dr. Curran will succeed Nina Rovinelli Heller, who plans to return to the faculty after eight years as the school’s dean.
“I am delighted to welcome Dr. Curran to our UConn SSW community,” says Dr. Heller. “She brings a strong and demonstrated commitment to social work education and research, faculty development, and student mentoring. This background, and prior work in the Rutgers’ Provost Office, position her well to work closely with colleagues across the university, our community partners, and to advance the national profile of the school.”
Dr. Curran earned her B.A. from Barnard College, an M.S.W. from Columbia University, and her PhD from UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare.
Prior to entering academia, Dr. Curran practiced as a social worker in the areas of community mental health and child welfare. She is currently an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Social Work Education.
Dr. Curran comes to the UConn School of Social Work as it celebrates its 75th anniversary as a leader in graduate social work education and research, and its faculty reported $4.5 million in research expenditures in FY 22.
The School of Social Work is also tied for no. 36 by U.S. News and World Report annual rankings, placing it in the top 12 percent of graduate social work programs nationwide.