By Amanda Hayes
The School of Social Work announced on Wednesday that inaugural dean, Dr. Diana Garland, will step down to faculty, but faculty members said she will continue to lead stronger than ever for the remainder of the semester.
Dr. Jon Singletary, interim dean of the School of Social Work, said Garland has advanced pancreatic cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. Because of this, Dr. Garland will be stepping down from her administrative post effective June 1.
Faculty and staff of the Baylor School of Social Work said they were shocked to learn of inaugural dean Diana Garland’s recent medical diagnosis, but are staying committed to the vision of the school in this time of transition.
“This has come as a tremendous surprise and shock to all of us to learn of her diagnosis,” Singletary said. “This is a season to take care of one another and walk alongside her during this transition.”
Garland will likely return to faculty in the spring of 2016, according to the press release yesterday, and the university plans to initiate a national search in the fall 2015 for a new dean.
“Dr. Garland has defined our school and strengthened our capacity to do research,” Singletary said. “Under her leadership we have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of student size and endowment.”
In December 2010, according to the press release, the School of Social Work tripled its teaching and lab space when it moved into renovated space in downtown Waco.
“I feel that our school is strong and in a position to continue the great work Diana has prepared us to do,” Singletary said. “I’ve learned a lot from Diana and my colleagues, in ways that will help us stay strong during this interim time.”
Singletary said the school does not anticipate any major changes, and the School of Social Work will still launch the graduate program at a location in the Houston metro area.
“My goal is to keep us on track during this time of transition,” Singletary said.
Becky Scott, lecturer in the School of Social Work, said Garland let the faculty and staff know she was stepping down several weeks ago. Scott said she supports her decision, but it is a major loss to the School of Social Work and the university as a whole.
Scott said Garland managed to establish a healthy culture within the Social Work faculty and staff.
“She set the bar high by example,” Scott said. “She is a strong leader, but also unusually collaborative.”
As an example of this collaboration, Scott said Garland has acted as a mentor to her through working together in a research project.
“For Dr. Garland, quality and scholarly work matters, but relationships are important also,” Scott said.
“I would describe Dr. Garland as a professor, leader, advocate, hero, and also a friend,” said Joben David, graduate assistant in the School of Social Work
Although it is hard on the school to lose her as a dean, David said he thinks Dr. Garland will enjoy interacting more directly with students as a faculty member. David said she incorporates her faith into her teaching, and is a leader on addressing the congregation’s ability to provide social services in a professional and faith-based manner
Dr. Preston Dyer, professor of social work and sociology, launched the undergraduate social work program and served as director for thirty years. Dyer appointed Garland as the chair of the department, and she then became the inaugural dean when the department became the School of Social Work of 2005.
“Our focus is on taking care of students and each other, and to enjoy this time with Dr. Garland,” Singletary said. “We anticipate a future that is as bright as the past.”