Social welfare dean Edleson stepping down

Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor and provost, sent this message to the campus community today:

Dear colleagues,

I write to share the news that after seven years at the helm of Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, Jeff Edleson has made a decision to step down as dean. Jeff believes now is an opportune moment to recruit a new leader to continue the school’s strong growth, and will return to his full-time faculty position at the close of the 2018-19 academic year.

Jeff Edelson

Jeff Edleson

Over the course of his tenure, Jeff — who began his career as an undergraduate research assistant at the School of Social Welfare nearly 45 years ago — has been tireless in his advocacy for social welfare education at Berkeley and in his efforts to ensure that the school contributes as much as it can towards creating a more equitable, caring and just society.

Shortly after taking up the position of dean in 2012, Jeff oversaw an 18-month strategic planning process aimed at assessing the School of Social Welfare’s place in the landscape of professional social work, identifying its unique strengths and determining its potential for growth. This served as a guiding framework for the school as he initiated changes to its undergraduate and graduate curricula, the addition of new physical spaces in and around Haviland Hall such as Haviland Commons and the Nathan Grove, the hiring of a talented and diverse body of new faculty and field consultants and efforts to ensure that the school would stand on sound financial footing for years to come.

Jeff’s contributions to the school have also included a host of endeavors to better support students including the creation of the Latinx Center of Excellence on Mental Health, incorporation of Berkeley Connect for undergraduate mentorship, and a commitment to increasing graduate student funding.

Under Jeff’s watch, the School of Social Welfare’s impact in the Bay Area and the world has grown. The school’s undergraduate program is ranked first in the nation, and its professional masters program is ranked third. The social welfare faculty was recently honored as one of most influential groups of scholars in the profession.

Jeff took up this deanship after 29 years at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work, where he established himself as a leading expert on domestic violence through his research into the effects of adult violence on children and our society’s responses to such acts. While his leadership at the School of Social Welfare will be missed, we are delighted to welcome a scholar of such high caliber into the ranks of Berkeley’s full-time faculty.

Please join me in thanking Jeff for his years of service to Berkeley and wishing him well on his final year as dean. You can read Jeff’s personal announcement on the School of Social Welfare website, and I will keep you posted as plans for the search for his successor take shape.


A. Paul Alivisatos, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost