Tom Walsh, in cap and gown, speaking at the 2023 diploma ceremony for the Boston College School of Social Work.

In this file photo, Tom Walsh speaks at the 2023 diploma ceremony for the Boston College School of Social Work. Photo by Tim Correira.

Tom Walsh, a fixture at the Boston College School of Social Work for more than 40 years, will deliver the keynote address at BCSSW’s diploma ceremony on May 20. 

The event will take place at around noon on the Lower Campus Lawn, rain or shine.

Walsh’s speech will mark a professional milestone, as he plans to retire at the end of June. 

He currently serves as the associate dean and director of the master of social work program at BCSSW, which ranks No. 8 in the nation. 

He also chairs the School’s Academic Planning Committee and the MSW program’s clinical specialization.

The Academic Planning Committee oversees the structure and content of the MSW curriculum. The clinical specialization prepares students to integrate evidence-based interventions and culturally sensitive practice into their work with individuals, families, and groups.

Walsh joined BCSSW as a part-time faculty member in 1982, when he began teaching in a program focused on the interplay between mental health and the law. He was promoted to the full-time faculty in 1995 and was named director of the MSW program in 2001. 

Over the years, Walsh has taught Psychosocial Pathology, Basic Skills in Clinical Social Work, and Clinical Practice with Adults. 

For decades, his commitment to educating students to address the world’s most pressing social problems extended beyond the walls of BC. He served as a member of the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation from 2010 to 2013 and from 2019 to 2022, reviewing accreditation self-study materials for BSW and MSW programs. He served as a member of the CSWE Commission on Educational Policy from 2013 to 2019, writing the curriculum policy that the Commission on Accreditation uses to formulate accreditation standards.

A portrait of Tom Walsh

Tom Walsh.

His research interest lies in forensic social work, which applies the principles of the helping profession to issues related to criminal justice. He has published in the areas of psychopathy and substance abuse.

His expertise led to appointments on the Governor’s Commission on Correctional Reform at Bridgewater State Hospital in 2005 and the Governor’s Social Work Education Working Group on Substance Misuse in 2017.

Prior to joining the full-time faculty at BCSSW, Walsh served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Prison Mental Health Program from 1984 to 1988. He’s held an appointment as an associate clinical social worker at McLean Hospital since 1980. 

Walsh earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston College in 1975; a master’s degree in social work from Simmons College in 1979; and a doctorate in social work from BC in 1995.

In addition to Walsh, more than half a dozen other members of the BCSSW community will play prominent roles in the diploma ceremony. Amanda Schar, MSW’24, will deliver the invocation and Sierra Pannell, MSW’24, will give the student address. Jamelia Destiny Willock, MSW’24, and Ty B. Tucker, PhD’24, will serve as the degree representatives. Kathleen Flinton and Carolyn Romano, assistant professors of the practice, will serve as the faculty marshalls. After graduates receive their diplomas, Professor Alejandro Olayo-Méndez will offer a benediction. 

Seating for guests on the Lower Campus Lawn is first come, first served. People who are unable to attend the event can livestream the ceremony on the University’s Commencement page.