Smith College appoints Marianne Yoshioka as new dean of the School for Social Work

Last modified: Wednesday, April 02, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Smith College has named Marianne Yoshioka as the new dean of the School for Social Work, succeeding Carolyn Jacobs who plans to retire May 17.

Yoshioka, associate dean for academic affairs at the Columbia University School of Social Work, will begin her job at Smith July 1. Her appointment was announced Monday.

Jacobs is retiring after 34 years at Smith. She joined the faculty in 1980, was appointed acting dean in 2000 and selected as permanent dean in 2003.

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Jacobs founded the Contemplative Clinical Practice Advanced Certificate Program at the school. She also serves on the board of directors at the Mind and Life Institute in Amherst, which uses neuroscience, psychology, education, medicine, ethics and religion to gain insight into the human mind to understand pain and suffering.

Her legacy as dean includes introducing faculty tenure, launching a scholarship for military personnel and their families, and leading the school’s commitment to anti-racism efforts.

Twenty years ago, faculty at the School of Social Work voted to make that formal commitment, including efforts such as increasing diversity among students and faculty, examining privilege and training students to be able to work in an increasingly globalized society, associate dean Joshua Miller said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Miller, who served on the selection committee for a new dean, said that maintaining that the commitment to anti-racism was an important factor in appointing Yoshioka.

“As the associate dean at Columbia she had developed many initiatives that showed her commitment to anti-oppression and anti-racism work with a strong emphasis on inclusion and confronting institutional barriers to equity and inclusion,” he said.

He said those commitments are evident in her research and work as an administrator. In her current position, Yoshioka worked to launch a professional development program that focused on diversity and inclusion, and has consistently worked on projects that seek to increase social services to underserved populations. For example, one initiative, The Peer Assistance Project, sought to improve access to social services for Cambodian women who are victims of domestic violence.

The search committee, led by college Provost Marilyn R. Schuster, convened in June 2013 shortly after Jacobs announced her retirement. After preliminary interviews, the top four candidates were invited to campus. The committee met for the final time March 12, when it reviewed each candidate, passing on the information to President Kathleen McCartney, who made the final decision.

Miller said, “There was a consensus that Marianne was an incredibly strong candidate.”

Yoshioka earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Western Ontario, a master’s of social work from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in social work from Florida State University. She began her career as a clinician, addressing substance abuse, HIV prevention and family alcohol intervention. Her clinical experience led her to research the cultural context of domestic violence and the distribution of social services in Asian American communities.

Yoshioka’s clinical experience made her a perfect match for Smith, one of the few schools in the country that is dedicated to training for clinical social work practice, Miller said.

“Marianne is somebody who is an experienced clinician, a skilled administrator, an accomplished scholar, and a person who works effectively with all of the different people she needs to work effectively with,” Miller added.


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