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Advisory board establishes endowment to support family violence research

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office: 817-272-7075, Cell: 214-546-1082,

The UT Arlington School of Social Work Advisory Council has created a new, $250,000 endowed professorship focused on issues of family violence in honor of the Arlington police officer and University alumna killed in the line of duty last year.

Advisory Council members committed a total $125,000 to The University of Texas at Arlington to create the endowment, a gift that is believed to be the first of its kind from a University advisory group. That sum has been 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.

“Family violence can destroy generations without respect of class or creed. It is a scourge on the American family,” said Scott Ryan, dean of the UT Arlington School of Social Work and 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.”

Robert Gladney, chairman of the social work advisory council, said he and fellow members were moved to create the Jillian Michelle Smith Professorship in Family Violence Research by the heroic actions of Officer Smith.

“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,” said Gladney, who is division vice president
for Kindred Healthcare Inc.

Jillian Michelle Smith graduated cum laude from UT Arlington in August 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminology and criminal justice and a minor in sociology. She graduated from the Arlington Police Department in August 2010 and was responding to a domestic violence call when she was fatally shot in December 2010.

Smith was heralded as a hero because she placed herself between the gunman and a child, ultimately saving the girl.

Doug Smith, father of the fallen officer, said he and his family are honored by the new endowment.

“If my daughter were here, she would be very pleased,” he said. “Anything positive that results – for example, better training for police officers responding to family violence calls – would be good.”

Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman said Smith understood that her life’s calling was to help others experience the kind of caring and stability she experienced in her own life.

“I know that Officer Smith would be honored that her battle against family violence continues,” Bowman said. “Her legacy is secure through the dozens of future beneficiaries of the endowment bearing her name.”

Black, who also is director of UT Arlington’s doctoral social work program, has focused her previous research on sexual assault, adolescent dating violence, prevention programming and domestic violence – an issue she believes must be addressed early with young people.

The UT Arlington School of Social Work offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs focused on enhancing social work education and preparing students for professional practice. To learn more, visit

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,449 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.