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Office of News & Public Affairs

Boston College School of Social Work Dean Alberto Godenzi To Step Down in 2016

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (8-27-15)—Boston College School of Social Work Dean Alberto Godenzi, whose 14 years of leadership helped transform the school by improving its academic reputation, research output, quality of faculty and responsiveness to critical societal needs, has announced that he will step down at the end of the 2015-2016 academic year.    

Godenzi has agreed, at the University's request, to then assist in the development of Boston College's next strategic plan by reviewing current international engagements and relationships and then preparing recommendations for enhancing the global connections and impact of Boston College.

A search committee will be formed shortly to seek a successor for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Alberto Godenzi
Alberto Godenzi (Photo by Suzanne Camarata)

“Alberto Godenzi has been a transformative and visionary leader for the School of Social Work, and he will hand his successor a much stronger school than the one he took over back in 2001,” said Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley. “His colleagues at Boston College and among the deans of the world’s top social work schools recognize Alberto’s exceptional commitment to the field and, in particular, his talent for imagining the kinds of programs that meet the needs of the contemporary world. I will miss having him as a colleague in the Council of Deans.”     

Among his most noted accomplishments as dean, Godenzi built a team of faculty scholars, researchers, clinicians and practitioners who helped recruit top students to propel the School of Social Work from 24th to 10th in the US News rankings, the highest ranking of the University’s eight schools and colleges. During his tenure, applications for the Master’s Degree in Social Work program (MSW) rose from 400 to 1200, and yield improved to nearly 50 percent. Through a strategic focus on enhanced financial aid, the school’s AHANA representation increased from 10 percent to 40 percent, while simultaneously attracting a national pool of top graduate students for the school’s MSW and PhD programs. In addition, faculty publications have doubled among senior faculty and tripled among junior faculty, while research funding has quadrupled.   

Godenzi also incorporated innovation and entrepreneurship into the curriculum, resulting in nationally recognized programs such as the Latino Leadership Initiative, the Center for Social Innovation, the Immigrant Integration Lab and the Global Practice Program, which helped brand the school as a leader in innovative responsiveness to emerging social issues. He also attracted the attention of leading academics with his interdisciplinary approach to social work education, which has led to the hiring of top faculty in fields such as sociology, neuroscience, epidemiology and public health.

“I am very happy about what we have accomplished as a school of social work,” said Godenzi. “We are known as a place that does cutting-edge work in areas such as neuroscience, immigration and naturalization and environmental justice, in addition to the more traditional fields of social work. It has resulted in a cultural shift for the school that has distinguished us in academe and enabled stakeholders outside of the academy to see us as partners in helping to resolve the world’s most compelling challenges.”  

A native of Switzerland, Godenzi had served as director the Department of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Fribourg before accepting the deanship at Boston College.  During his years as dean, colleagues say, he earned a reputation as a tireless worker who leads by example and is selfless in his efforts to help faculty and students succeed.

“Indicators of effective leadership provide insights about accomplishments made by the School of Social Work overall, as well as by individual faculty and staff members,” said veteran BCSSW Professor Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes. “The progress that the school has made during Alberto's tenure is evidenced by the positive changes in its national ranking as well as by the school's reputation for scholarship and the excellent preparation of its graduate students. Dean Godenzi has also encouraged faculty to strengthen the curriculum at both the master’s and doctoral levels and to include content in areas such as social innovation. His  ​achievement orientation has had a cascading effect on the work of the faculty as well as our graduate students.”

Added BCSSW Associate Dean Thomas Walsh, “Alberto has transformed the school since his arrival, and in a very short time achieved the goal that he proclaimed in his initial job interview – to make the BCSSW a top-10 ranked school. In short order, he accomplished another initial goal – to create a Global Practice Concentration that educates and places our students throughout the world in NGOs serving the most vulnerable and oppressed. By positioning the school as a leader in scholarship and innovation, he has successfully recruited national and international faculty for several endowed professorships that were created under his direction. He is a dynamic, strategic, and visionary leader who sets and achieves his goals. The BCSSW, the University, and the profession itself have all benefitted immensely from Alberto’s dedication and commitment to social work.”

Godenzi credits University President William P. Leahy, SJ, with giving him an opportunity to lead the school, grow its faculty from 18 to 30 and create the programs and initiatives that reflect the mission of Boston College. “The school's success and transformation could not have been accomplished without the invaluable guidance and support of Fr. Leahy and David Quigley and his predecessors,” said Godenzi. “They provided the school with the time and space to grow, allocated substantial resources to attract the best and brightest students and faculty, and challenged us to dream big and reach new heights in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition of higher education. I will forever be grateful for their encouragement and advice."

As he prepares for his final year at the helm of BCSSW, Godenzi says he is confident about the future of the school and the field of social work itself, despite the increased challenges inherent in addressing society’s most challenging issues.

“The School of Social Work has excellent faculty, a strong academic reputation and dedicated administrators and staff,” said Godenzi. “We have built a unique mix of talented junior, mid-career and senior faculty who have developed innovative and future-oriented initiatives that make us a go-to place in our field. I know that the school will continue to thrive.  

“I am also pleased that those who are drawn to the field of social work recognize that we deal with the issues—including poverty and racial injustice—that most people do not want to talk about. However, as social workers we are framing the questions around these crucial issues with the realization that we as a society will be measured by how well we respond to them. That is what makes the field so rewarding. I am proud of what we do and that we will remain at the forefront of addressing these crucial issues.”   


--Jack Dunn, Director, Office of News & Public Affairs,