Elizabeth “Betsy” M.Z. Farmer, Ph.D. has been named as the next dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Dr. Farmer, currently a professor and associate dean for research at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of Social Work, focuses most of her research on exploring youth pathways through the child services sector and improving outcomes. In addition to numerous published research studies and articles, she has helped initiate several community-focused and cross-disciplinary projects benefiting children and youth while at VCU and has been credited with revitalizing its school of social work’s focus and curriculum.
Farmer’s own education includes a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the College of William & Mary as well as a Ph.D. in sociology from Duke University. Before entering the academic world as a career, Farmer worked in community-based settings as a treatment foster parent, respite care provider and group home parent. From this experience she became well-known for developing “Together Facing the Challenge”, an evidence-based model for treatment foster care which is now implemented in more than 20 states. Helping youth in these capacities would serve to drive her research focuses later on in her career as well. This career in academia includes faculty positions at Case Western Reserve University, Duke University and Pennsylvania State University. She has also served as the co-editor of the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders since 2011. “Betsy has the vision and experience to take the University’s top-ranked School of Social Work and elevate it in prominence, practice and impact,” said Pitt Chancellor, Patrick Gallagher, in a press release. “I am pleased that she is joining us as the school’s new dean and excited to watch her get to work.” Elizabeth Farmer, Ph.D. assumes the deanship of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work on Aug. 1, 2018 as the school celebrates its 100th anniversary.