New School of Social Work Dean Announced

Loyola announced Patricia Findley as the new dean of the School of Social Work in a March 12 press release to the university community.

Loyola announced Patricia Findley as the new dean of the School of Social Work in a March 12 press release to the university community. She will officially take over the role from current Interim Dean James Marley beginning July 1.

Findley said she is currently a professor of social work and associate dean for academic affairs of the School of Social Work at Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey. She’s the fourth new dean appointed to the university since the start of the 2023-24 school year, including deans of the School of Communication, School of Education and Arrupe College, The Phoenix previously reported. 

Findley’s research has included chronic illness, physical disability, interprofessional health education, disaster preparedness and response and cancer survivorship, according to the press release. 

Findley said she graduated with a Masters of Social Work from Loyola in 1989 and is excited to return to the campus which helped her through her career. She said she can still remember orientation and the impact it had on her during her time at the university.

“I was listening to the dean speak as I was starting my degree at Loyola, telling us you’re going to read more than the law students read,” Findley said. “I still remember the anxiety I had being a student. I never in my lifetime would have thought I’d be coming back as the dean.”

Findley said she is a board member of Rutgers Health, co-chair of the Rutgers Health Council and is on the Interprofessional Education Faculty Advisory Committee for Rutgers University.

Findley said one of the hardest experiences she has had in her career was when she was working with an 18-year-old male patient who had a spinal cord injury from a car accident. She said she used the training she had from Loyola to help him feel seen and heard, which she continues to strive for in everything she does. 

“I remember learning from that moment that there was no way I could really understand what was happening to him,” Findley said. “I just asked him. ‘You’re right. I don’t know what it’s like for you, but help me to understand. Talk to me, help me to understand what’s happening with you.’ And that’s something I use all the time.”

Once she has officially entered the position, Findley said she has plans to take on the issues currently being faced nationally relating to licensure of social workers after graduation. As a health care social worker, she said she also wants to experiment with ways students can gain more experience with health care through their Loyola social work education. 

In addition to this, Findley said she has plans for some new hires for the fall which will help to increase diversity in the department at Loyola.

Findley said felt inspired to move back to Chicago and be closer to her family here, especially after the death of her husband three years ago. 

“It’s a great school, first of all, so I was really proud of my alma mater,” Findley said. “It’s got a wonderful national reputation. I know some folks in the Chicagoland area and the time was really good for me to come back.”

Findley was a research scholar in the Veterans Administration and spent time exploring physical and mental health as well as trauma issues within the veteran population. She co-authored a book titled “The Cancer Survivor Handbook: The Essential Guide to Cancer Survivorship” in 2006, according to the press release.

Provost Margaret Callahan wrote in an email to The Phoenix she’s excited to welcome Findley back to the university as the next step in her career. 

“Over the course of Dr. Findley’s entire career, she has devoted herself to student, faculty and staff success,” Callahan said. “She has been an active research and program developer and has received substantial grant support to further her vision and work to support  student success, inclusive communities and much more. We look forward to her bringing this experience to Loyola University Chicago.”

Findley said she was inspired to enter the field of social work after watching the work of her grandparents, who ran a free ambulance in Denver for 30 years beginning in the 1930’s.

“They would deliver a baby almost once a year,” Findley said. “All those kids, when they retired, came back to visit my grandparents. They called my grandparents the Canyon Angels because they rescue people from fires and floods and car accidents and help them with food and clothing.”

She said she is proud of the work this has inspired her to do throughout her career. 

“Serving the community is something that my family has always done,” Findley said. “Just to take it to a more professional level and then pass on those traditions to students has been a great legacy I’m always proud of.”

Findley said one of her favorite parts of her job is getting to see students grow through their academic experiences.

“I always like the first day of school when we welcome people in, but I also love graduation when we send them off, launch them into the world to go ahead and start working with people as we start training,” Findley said.

Findley said she holds a bachelor’s degree in human services from the National College of Education in addition to her degree from Loyola. She’s a member of the honor society of Jesuit universities, Alpha Sigma Nu, and has her doctor in public health degree from the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Featured image by Austin Hojdar / The Phoenix

Lilli Malone

Lilli Malone