Beloved adjunct professor for 22 years, Texas state board member dies

Thursday, Sep 14, 2023

By Antwan C. Williams
School of Social Work

 In Memory of Professor Derrylynn Perryman table setup

A longtime University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work adjunct assistant professor and Tarrant County victim services advocate died earlier this week.

Derrelynn Perryman, who was appointed in 2015 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to a six-year term on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, was found dead in her home.

Perryman was re-appointed by the governor in 2021 to the same Texas nine-member board which oversees the functions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice including selecting the executive director.

A quote in a Wednesday statement released by the department’s chair of the board Eric J.R. Nichols said, “Derrelynn Perryman was a true partner in service for those of us who had the privilege to work with her on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice.”

“She leaves behind a legacy of strong support for the women and men of TDCJ and Windham [School District] and the mission of those agencies, including unwavering dedication to the cause of victims’ rights,” Nichols said.

According to the department’s published statement, during Perryman’s tenure on the state board she served in the vice chair position and later in the secretary position. She was a member of the board’s Health Care, Human Resources, and Rehabilitation and Reentry Programs committees, and chaired the Victim Services Committee.

Perryman was a graduate of UTA’s Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work (formerly Master of Science in Social Work) programs and was considered a leader in the community for victim advocacy.

For 22 years Perryman taught undergraduate and graduate courses at the UTA School of Social Work, as well as in the College of Liberal Arts – Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

In an email sent Wednesday to the UTA School of Social Work faculty and staff, Interim Dean Dr. Debra Woody wrote, “It is with a heavy heart that I share the death of longtime Adjunct Professor Derrelynn Perryman. This is an unexpected loss that is deeply impacting our community, including many students.”

“Ms. Perryman is a longtime member of our School of Social Work community who has made vibrant contributions to our discipline and was an instructor for four courses this term,” Woody said.

Perryman, a licensed clinical social worker, was a therapist in private practice with the First Watch Consulting Group in Fort Worth. She recently retired from the Arlington Police Department where she served as a victim services coordinator from 1994 to 2016. Later she served as the victim advocate director for the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office from 2016 to 2019.

Perryman was a member of the Arlington Police Department’s Critical Incident Team. As a certified peace officer, she provided instruction training for officers and first responders.

In 2006 Perryman received the Social Worker of the Year award from the National Association of Social Workers Tarrant County Branch. 

“Derrelynn’s lasting impact on the thousands of students she taught, clients she served, and the friends and family she loved will be remembered for many years to come,” UTA School of Social Work Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Diane Mitschke said.

“We as a School of Social Work are grateful for Derrelynn’s presence in our midst, as a student, practitioner, and educator, and grieve her loss deeply,” Mitschke said.

Mitschke provided comments students wrote in recent feedback surveys of courses Perryman taught. One student said, “She was passionate about her work, and she brought real-world examples into the classroom.”

Another student said, “She was truly a delightful professor.”

During events organized by Concerns of Police Survivors, a non-profit organization, Perryman volunteered countless hours. Since 2005 she provided counseling and therapy to children, family members, and colleagues of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

In a statement published Wednesday on the non-profit’s Facebook page the organization said, “She served as a counselor for C.O.P.S. for nearly 20 years at National Police Week, Kids Camp, Young Adults Camp, Siblings Retreat, Parents Retreat and Co-Workers for Couples Retreat. She devoted herself to healing the hearts of survivors across the nation. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her, especially those whose lives she deeply impacted.”

Perryman was the former president of Texas Victim Services Association, former co-chairman of the Tarrant County Criminal Justice Plan Committee, and a former member of the North Central Texas Council of Government's Criminal Justice Policy Development Committee.

In the 1990s Perryman was a therapist with Family Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service, Inc.  She was also an adjunct faculty professor at Texas Christian University.

Wednesday Perryman would have turned 60.

Professor Derrelynn Perryman’s Obituary

Resources available to students:

In Memory of Professor Derrylynn Perryman with picture on table

UTA School of Social Work has setup a quiet memorial space at the UTA Fort Worth campus in Room 112 and on the Arlington campus in Suite 203. Both include a journaling space for our community to share memories and reflections, as we process this unimaginable loss. Should you need assistance, please use the information below to reach out to the corresponding campus resources. 

Virtual and Physical Spaces for Informal Emotional Support:

Wednesday, September 13th
Face to Face: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, Fort Worth Campus, Room 121

Thursday, September 14th
Face to Face: 11:00 am-2:00 pm, Arlington Campus, SWSH Building, Suite 203
Face to Face: 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm, Arlington Campus, SWSH Building, Suite 203
Virtual: 11:00 am-2:00 pm on TEAMS

Click here to join the meeting
Meeting ID: 258 559 605 983
Passcode: izS7dV 
Download Teams | Join on the web
Or call in (audio only)
+1 817-502-2418,,444193442#   United States, Fort Worth
Phone Conference ID: 444 193 442#

Friday, September 15th
On-Campus: 11:00 am-2:00 pm, Arlington Campus, SWSH Building, Suite 203
Virtual: 11:00 am-2:00 pm on TEAMS
Click here to join the meeting
Meeting ID: 220 100 622 971
Passcode: chzkrw 
Download Teams | Join on the web
Or call in (audio only)
+1 817-502-2418,,440864146#   United States, Fort Worth

Individual Grief Support is also available to all students through these University resources:

UTA CAPS office
CAPS Contact Us
Call us at 817-272-3671 on Monday-Friday during 8 am-5 pm or use our Web Portal to seek support. For emergencies, call 911, or the MAVS Talk crisis line.
Walk-in appointments are available there is always a Clinician on Duty (COD)

The University of Texas at Arlington - TimelyCare - Virtual Health and Well-Being for Higher Education
Contracted Services for MH Support:
Timelycare is 100% virtual appointments offered in the evenings + weekend

MAVS TALK 24-hour Crisis Line: 817-272-8255

Finally, our UTA School of Social Work Student Success Coordinator, Traecia Nichols is here to assist and connect you with additional resources (


A memorial service for Derrelynn Perryman will be held this Thursday, September 21, at 3 p.m. at Arlington Heights United Methodist Church, 4200 Camp Bowie Blvd in Fort Worth.

Derrelynn Perryman memorial flyer