New UH Social Work Dean Aims to Enhance College's National Reputation

Alan Dettlaff to Join College in May

For the first time in 15 years, the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) will have a new leader. Professor Alan J. Dettlaff of the University of Illinois at Chicago has been selected to serve as dean of the GCSW and the first Endowed Dean’s Chair.

“The Graduate College of Social Work is a nationally recognized program in a Carnegie-designated, Tier One research university,” Dettlaff said. “The faculty, staff and students have demonstrated tremendous success, and this position offers an incredible opportunity to build upon their accomplishments. With the generous support and permanent funding provided by the Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s chair, I am looking forward to leading the GCSW to its next level of scholarly research and attracting outstanding research faculty and graduate students.”


Dettlaff comes to Houston by way of Chicago and the Jane Addams College of Social Work where he has served as an associate professor since 2012. A former supervisor at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Fort Worth and case manager at the AIDS Resources of Rural Texas in Weatherford, Texas, Dettlaff’s research interests include children and minorities in the child welfare system, as well as training the next generation of child welfare professionals.

“I’m looking forward to learning the culture of the college and meeting with the faculty, staff, students and members of the Houston community,” he said. “We’ll all then move forward to enhance the national prominence of the college.”

Dettlaff succeeds Professor Ira Colby who led the college for 15 years. Colby stepped down in 2014 to pursue research and return to the faculty.  Professor Emeritus Paul Raffoul, formerly the associate dean for administration and information technology, has been serving as the college’s interim dean.

“I’m very excited to welcome a young, ambitious and nationally-known social work educator as our new dean,” Raffoul said. “His research on issues such as immigrant Latino children complements works ongoing at the college and will further build our reputation as a highly-ranked social work institution providing a quality education to diverse populations.”

Dettlaff recently was inducted into the 2015 class of Fellows of the Society for Social Work and Research and is the chair of the Commission on Educational Policy for the Council on Social Work Education, which develops the policy that guides social work education. 

He is expected to begin his duties May 16.  

For more information on the Graduate College of Social Work, visit