Combatting Abuse

Beverly Black named to family violence professorship

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The memory of alumna and Arlington police officer Jillian Smith, who was killed in the line of duty last year, will live on through a new UT Arlington professorship.

The School of Social Work Advisory Council has created the $250,000 Jillian Michele Smith Professorship in Family Violence Research. Council members committed $125,000 to establish the endowment, believed to be the first of its kind from a University advisory group. The sum doubled through the Maverick Match program, which pairs natural gas royalties with new endowment commitments to encourage philanthropic gifts.

Social Work Professor Beverly Black, who joined the University in 2008, has been named the professorship’s first recipient. Dr. Black directs UT Arlington’s Social Work Ph.D. program and focuses her research on sexual assault, adolescent dating violence, prevention programming, and domestic violence.

Robert Gladney, advisory council chair, says he and fellow members were moved to create the professorship by Smith’s bravery. She was responding to a domestic violence call when she was fatally shot in December 2010. Smith, who graduated cum laude in August 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice, was heralded as a hero because she placed herself between the gunman and a child, saving the girl’s life.

We knew that naming the professorship for her would serve both to honor her actions and inspire future scholars to develop research-based practical solutions for the terrible problem of family violence,” says Gladney, division vice president for Kindred Healthcare.

School of Social Work Dean Scott Ryan says family violence can destroy generations without respect for class or creed.

It is a scourge on the American family,” says Dr. Ryan, the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Social Work. “This kind of private support is critical to elevating the research of faculty who have distinguished themselves in the field of family violence prevention and to establishing best practices for resolving conflict before it is too late.”

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