Roff leaves retirement for interim dean position

Roff leaves retirement for interim dean position

080331, Social Work headshots

Ashanka Kumari

When Lucinda Lee Roff, interim dean of the School of Social Work, first came to the University in 1974, she did not expect to stay in Alabama for more than a year or two.

However, in 1987, the University appointed Roff as Dean of the School of Social Work, a position she served until 2000, Roff said. She then became a full-time faculty member until her retirement from the University in 2008.

Two years into her retirement, the University Provost Judy Bonner asked Roff to return and serve as interim dean, she said.

“I believe in what social work does and what the School of Social Work does in teaching, research and service,” Roff said. “I wanted to help [continue to] make a difference in the quality of people’s lives through preparing the next generation of social workers.”

Roff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in German from Yale University, a Master’s in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Denver.

“To note that Dean Roff has an undergraduate degree in German from Yale shows that she breaks some people’s stereotype of a [typical] social worker. Yet, if social work involves caring about and kindness toward others, as well as excellent cognitive skills for problem solving, then Lucinda Roff is a model for the kind of person who makes an outstanding social worker, faculty member and dean,” said Ginny Raymond, associate professor in the School of Social Work.

Roff’s area of expertise is aging, and she has published many works in that area, Raymond said.

Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor in the School of Social Work, said Roff puts the well-being of the School of Social Work at the heart of her labor.

“[She] exemplifies the ideal of a servant leader,” Nelson-Gardell said. “Her acutely sharp intellect, combined with her problem-solving skills and humility, make her one of the most effective leaders with whom I’ve worked.”

As interim dean of the School of Social Work, Roff said her job includes being the chief academic officer, chief fiscal officer and holding responsibilities for external relations for the school. She also teaches one course each semester and assists students with research.

“We are trying to make professional social work education accessible to potential students throughout the state through our primarily online MSW program and online BSW offerings,” Roff said. “We are trying to develop superb Ph.D. graduates who will educate the coming generations of social workers and conduct research to improve the quality of human life.”

The School of Social Work is also trying to extend students’ horizons through programs offering field education in Washington, D.C., and through international education efforts, Roff said.

Carroll Phelps, coordinator of the Washington, D.C. Internship program, said Roff’s commitment has allowed the School to offer these types of opportunities, and academic standards will only continue to rise under her guidance.

“Dean Roff is a clear and precise thinker who is able to articulate concepts and vision in a manner that is easy to grasp,” Phelps said. “As a result, an environment is created in which students, faculty and staff are able to be productive and successful.”