Dean, School of Social Work

Published May 26, 2021

Dear University Community:                                                                         

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Keith A. Alford, professor of social work and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Syracuse University, as dean of UB’s School of Social Work, effective August 15, 2021. 

Dr. Alford emerged from a highly competitive pool of candidates following an extensive national search. He stood out because of his clear vision for furthering the School of Social Work’s mission of creating a better society through the generation and transmission of knowledge, promotion of social justice and service to humanity, as well as his impressive administrative experience, strategic and collaborative approach to leadership, and deep commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice.

At Syracuse University's School of Social Work at Falk College, Dr. Alford previously served as director/chair, graduate program director and undergraduate program director. As Syracuse University’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, Dr. Alford has provided executive leadership, oversight and vision for a range of services, programs, policies, and procedures related to advancing the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion.

A former child protective services worker, outpatient family therapist and therapeutic foster care supervisor, Dr. Alford has devoted his career to serving and researching the needs of children and families. Dr. Alford’s areas of research specialization include mental health service delivery to children and families, culturally specific programming for children and families, contemporary rites of passage programming, and loss/grief reactions among African American families. His work has been supported by numerous grants, and he currently is co-investigator on one of only eight national Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence to enhance diversity in the intelligence field. Dr. Alford serves on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Urban Social Work, Journal of Family Social Work, and Journal of Brief Therapy. In 2014, he was named one of the 30 most influential social workers in the nation by Social Work Degree Guide.

Dr. Alford holds a master’s and PhD in social work from The Ohio State University, and a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology from Coker University.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Dean Aviva Abramovsky and all of the members of the search committee for their outstanding service, which was crucial to the successful outcome of this search. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dean Nancy Smyth for her outstanding leadership of UB’s School of Social Work for nearly 17 years and for her willingness to continue serving as dean until Dr. Alford arrives later this summer.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Alford to UB and to this important leadership role within our campus community. For more details on this appointment, please view the full announcement here.



A. Scott Weber                                                                                      Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs