Sixteen new full-time faculty joined the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) for the 2023-24 academic year. Two of the faculty members are also new department chairs in the college. Gregg Barron, assistant teaching professor of music industry in…
Keith A. Alford Named Dean of University at Buffalo’s School of Social Work
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) Keith A. Alford, Ph.D., has announced that he will become dean of the University at Buffalo’s (UB) School of Social Work. Alford, who has been a member of the Syracuse University faculty for 25 years in the School of Social Work in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, will begin his new position on Aug. 15. He will serve as CDIO until his departure.
“Keith has spearheaded vital initiatives to advance diversity, equity, inclusivity and accessibility throughout our campus community,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “Keith is well known on our campus for his grace, compassion and commitment to serving our students. His long and distinguished career at Syracuse University will have a lasting impact on our community. He will be missed by all who’ve worked closely with him over the years.” Chancellor Syverud appointed Alford as CDIO in May 2019. Alford served as interim CDIO since July 2018 following the announcement of the newly established CIDO position.
In his new role at UB, Alford will be a member of the university’s senior leadership team, working with the president, provost, deans and other senior leaders to advance the university’s academic mission. As the chief academic and administrative officer of the School of Social Work, he will report to the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and will be charged with leading a new strategic planning cycle that incorporates diversity, inclusion and social justice efforts into the vision for the school.
“I am honored by the opportunity at UB, though I will certainly miss my Syracuse University family,” says Alford, who is guiding the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Planning Task Force in the creation of Syracuse University’s first strategic plan on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. “I am so proud of the work done by dozens of individuals who, in this process, brought diverse viewpoints, honesty and understanding to a process that will serve our students, faculty and staff for generations to come.”
Over the last several years, Alford has brought together faculty and staff members from each of the University’s schools and colleges who lead diversity and inclusion efforts in their respective units to form the Inclusive Leadership Assembly. Alford leads the Council on Diversity and Inclusion with the support of co-chairs Paula Possenti-Perez and Craig Tucker. He has also worked with students, faculty and staff partners across campus, including within the Office of Academic Affairs and its Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and Center for Faculty Leadership and Professional Development, to bring programming and workshops on diversity and inclusion and understanding bias to the campus community. He also worked to elevate the importance of accessibility with his support of the Disability Community Group.
Alford has often spoken of the importance of dialogue and community. “Dialogue is a vehicle for progress,” says Alford. He takes a room-for-all approach. “In dialogue, we open ourselves to the process of discovery and understanding the life experiences of others.”
During his tenure at Syracuse University, Alford served as professor and chair of the Falk College’s School of Social Work, and at separate times as its graduate and undergraduate program director. Alford’s areas of specialization include mental health service delivery to children and families, culturally specific programming for children in out-of-home care, contemporary rites of passage programming and loss/grief reactions among African American families. Through his teaching, he has been involved with a National Science Foundation grant supporting the training of diverse undergraduates in conducting trauma research with veterans. He served on the Faculty Senate Committee on Diversity, the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and as an advisor to the Student of Color Advisory Committee.
Alford received a Ph.D. from the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio. He earned a master of social work also from OSU, and a bachelor of arts degree in history and sociology from Coker University in Hartsville, South Carolina.