Former dean receives prestigious award

Tuesday, Oct 10, 2023

By Jaelon Jackson
School of Social Work

Dr. Scott Ryan
Photo Courtesy of Christine Vo

A social work professor and former dean has been named a National Association of Social Workers Pioneer.

Dr. Scott Ryan, who stepped down in May after 14 years as the School of Work dean received notification this summer. Ryan served as dean from 2009 to 2023. He has now resumed his role as faculty member and researcher.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be recognized and included among so many great social work pioneers,” Dr. Ryan said.

Between 2000 and 2023, Ryan published more than 46 academic articles and nine book chapters focusing primarily on adoptions, including international adoption, therapeutic needs of adoptees, and adoption by LGBTQ+ headed families. 

During Ryan’s tenure he secured more than $10 million in donor funding, doubled student enrollment and increased the number of tenure and non-tenured full-time faculty by more than 35%.

Before moving to Texas, Ryan was the Jeanene M. Janes Professor of Child Welfare and Associate Dean for Research at the Florida State University's College of Social Work.

Ryan has worked extensively with at-risk families for almost two decades as a clinician, educator, trainer and researcher. He has taught both research and clinical classes with the goal of building bridges, so researchers understand the real world needs of clinicians and practitioners.

Ryan earned a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University, a Master of Business Administration from Howard University, and has a doctorate in social work from Case Western Reserve University. In addition, he has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing and a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

“I am thrilled that my work has had an impact on the profession and larger society, but to quote Isaac Newton, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,’” Ryan said. “I am also proud to join the ranks of the many other UTA SSW faculty who have received this recognition.”

In addition to Ryan, former UTA Social Work Professor Dr. Larry D. Watson will also receive the NASW Pioneer award this year. Social Work Professor Dr. Rick Hoefer received the prestigious award in 2022 and Professor Emerita Dr. Catheleen Jordan was named an NASW Pioneer in 2017.

Other former UTA professors who are NASW Pioneers include Dr. Fran Danis, Dr. Doreen Elliott, Dr. James Callicutt, Dr. Donald Granvold and Dr. Ira Colby.

NASW is the largest membership organization of professional Social Workers across the world. The organization’s members work to grow the profession and to create and maintain professional standards for Social Workers.

NASW honors members as Pioneers “who have explored new territories and built outposts for human services on many frontiers.”

Each Pioneer “has made an important contribution to the Social Work profession and to social policies through service, teaching, writing, research, program development, administration or legislation,” the organization said of its honorees.

Ryan will officially receive the honor during an investiture ceremony at the NASW Foundation’s 17th Annual Social Work Pioneer Program and Luncheon. The event will be held Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C.


Tune in on October 14, 2023 at 2:15 p.m. ET / 1:15 p.m. CT for a live stream event of the NASW Pioneer induction ceremony. Join the live stream here: