The Diana R. Garland School of Social work was closed Tuesday and remains closed today in mourning for the school’s namesake and former dean, Diana R. Garland, who died on Monday night.
“She was one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever met,” said Amarillo junior Heath Holland. “She was so excited I chose to be a social work major.”
Holland said when he met Garland, she was excited to see him and told him to come by her office and talk with her anytime, though he never got the chance to.
Garland spent six months battling pancreatic cancer. She stepped down from her position as dean in the spring of 2015 with the intent of taking a research sabbatical for this fall and returning to faculty during the spring semester of 2016.
Garland came to Baylor in 1997 and was named the director of the university’s center for family and community ministries in 1998. From there, she became the chair of the social work department in 2001. When Baylor turned the department into its own School of Social Work in 2005, Baylor named Garland as its first dean.
At the time the announcement was made to name the school after Garland, she said she was speechless in gratitude.
“All this school has accomplished has been because God has bound us together, magnifying our strengths and shining through our weaknesses,” Garland said at the time. “We have achieved far more than any group of people could have humanly done alone, and most certainly not due to any one person’s leadership. I hope that everyone who associates my name with this school will laugh, as I do, that God has once again chosen a flawed but willing character through whom to work.”
Littleton, Colo., junior Mikayla York said one of the reasons she chose to study social work at Baylor was because of the integration of faith and practice.
“That’s what Diana devoted her life to,” York said.
Jon E. Singletary., interim dean and holder of The Diana R. Garland Endowed Chair of Child and Family Studies, said Garland was the image of integration of faith and practice.
“Her social work teaching, research, writing and leadership were all expressions of her faith…” Singletary said. “She was my dean and my mentor, and she was my friend and inspiration …She expected a lot from me, she gave a ton of herself to me, and most importantly, I always knew she loved me and was proud of me.”
York said Garland would take the time to ask students how they were and that she genuinely wanted to know the answer.
“[The school of social work is] so small that everyone knew Diana [Garland],” York said.
She said that’s why closing the school for a few days made sense.
Garland’s husband, David Garland, and their two children, Sarah and John, survive Garland, along with their spouses and Garland’s four grandchildren.
During her time at Baylor, in addition to her previously mentioned titles, Garland’s achievements included growing the School of Social Work in baccalaureate, master’s, doctorate and joint-degree options; she authored, co-authored or served as the editor for 21 books and over 100 articles; and served as Baylor’s first lady from 2008 to 2010 when her husband served as the interim president of the university.
“Baylor University has lost a cherished, fiercely dedicated and visionary servant leader in Dr. Diana Garland, the inaugural dean of the School of Social Work which now bears her name,” said Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr in a press release from the university.
“Dean Garland prayerfully and powerfully guided the School in its growth from the very beginning as a fledgling department to its standing today as an independent, nationally recognized school known for research excellence and unwavering Christian commitment.”