Eight new professors to join the School of Social Work

Friday, Sep 02, 2022

By Valerie Fields Hill
School of Social Work

 Picture of people walking outside of new School of Social Work building


Eight new faculty members will join the School of Social Work this fall, administrators announced.


“We are delighted to have these outstanding new faculty join our School of Social Work,” Dean Scott Ryan said. “They will certainly help us grow in the areas of Mental Health, Families and Children, scholarship and teaching.”


Among the new faculty will be three accomplished Social Work professors of practice. 


Professors of practice bring significant clinical work experience, professional knowledge, and career achievement to the classroom. They offer teaching in the practical aspects of a field, or the nuances of a profession students otherwise might not gain from theoretical instruction alone.


Dr. Joyce M. White joined the School of Social Work earlier this year as the new graduate program director and as an assistant professor of practice. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than 20 years of experience leading government and non-profit organizations.


Dr. White also has experience in grant-writing, budgeting, supervision, and counseling.


Dr. Kelli Rogers and Dr. Tiara Thomas,both Licensed Master Social Workers, havejoined the faculty as assistant professors of practice.


Dr. Rogers previously worked as a foster care parent recruiter and a hospice Social Worker. Her research interests are educational disparities, school readiness and child development.


Before earning her Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies, Dr. Thomas served as a Master of Social Work academic advisor in the UTA School of Social Work, beginning in 2015.  After earning her doctorate, she served as coordinator of the Title IV-E Stipend program for the School of Social Work.


“These outstanding new faculty reflect the highest standards of research and teaching expertise that characterize our School of Social Work faculty,” said Dr. Diane Mitschke, associate dean for academic and student affairs. 


“Many of our new faculty have years of experience in diverse areas of Social Work practice, while others have critical expertise in Social Work education,” she said.


Dr. Mitschke said the new faculty members are “dynamic researchers with international reputations for their contributions to the Social Work knowledge base.”


The School’s faculty and staff formally welcomed the new professors during a luncheon on Aug. 15.


“They bring a wealth of experience in research and clinical practice that will enhance our profile nationally and help us address important social issues,” Dr. Ryan said.


“Students will clearly benefit by learning from these faculty.”


Here are the School’s eight new professors:


Dr. Poco Donna Kernsmith, a professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, joins the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work faculty as a full professor and will also serve as the new Ph.D. program director.


Dr. Kernsmith is an expert in sexual violence policies and strategies to reduce such violence. In 2020, Dr. Kernsmith received more than $2.2 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for research into creating protective environments in schools.


Dr. Kernsmith earned a doctoral degree from the University of California Los Angeles’ School of Public Policy and Social Research and earned a master's degree from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor’s School of Social Work.


Dr. Hui Huang was an associate professor in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University, a public research college in Miami. Dr. Huang joins the School of Social Work   as an associate professor.


Dr. Huang is a research fellow at the Florida Institute for Child Welfare and a faculty affiliate of the Child and Adolescent Data Lab at the University of Michigan.


Dr. Huang’s research interests are child welfare, substance misuse and juvenile justice. Dr. Huang has five degrees: a Master of Science in Statistics, a Master of Social Work with a Child Welfare emphasis, and a Ph.D. in Social Work, which all three were earned at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Dr. Huang earned the two other degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, and a Master of Arts in Social Work, at Xiamen University in China.


Drs. Bethany WoodChristine Spadola and Yangjin Park are starting as assistant professors.


Dr. Wood researches the effects of poverty on mental health, having previously worked at the University of Texas in Austin. In clinical settings, Dr. Wood works with domestic violence survivors, young adults living with autism and teens and pre-teens with suicidal ideations.


Dr. Spadola previously worked as an assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Spadola earned a master's in counseling psychology and a doctorate in Social Work at Florida International University.


Dr. Spadola completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Harvard Medical School. Her research interests include sleep and mental health promotion in underserved communities, substance misuse and mind-body interventions.


Dr. Park earned his Ph.D. in Social Work from the New York University Silver School of Social Work where he also was as an adjunct instructor. Dr. Park’s research interests include domestic violence, family resilience and military families.


Dr. Park has published work in national and international journals, including the Journal of Asian and African StudiesJournal of Family Issues, Psychiatric Quarterly and Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy.


Dr. Thomas earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy studies from UTA. She earned a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Rutgers University. 


Dr. Rogers earned a doctorate in Social Work at UTA in 2021, and a Master of Social Work from Texas A&M University.


Dr. White earned a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership degree from Webster University, a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University-St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri at St. Louis.


Dr. White has a wealth of experience in administration serving in senior and executive level positions with organizations such as the Dallas County Housing Authority and the United Way of Greater St. Louis.


Read more on the School of Social Worker’s new faculty members by clicking here: https://www.uta.edu/academics/schools-colleges/social-work/faculty-directory