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Karen Sowers, dean of the College of Social Work was recently named the recipient of Mental Health America’s 2016 George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award.

The award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the care and treatment of people with mental illnesses. Sowers will be presented with the award at Mental Health America’s national conference in Alexandria, Virginia, in June.

Karen Sowers_sowers2“I am honored to be recognized by such an important organization as Mental Health America,” said Sowers. “MHA is an organization that is working to effect change in the right field at the right time in our nation’s history by promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, and integrated care and treatment for those who need it, with recovery as the goal. I’m very pleased if my work is playing a part in that kind of change for our society.”

Sowers, who is also the college’s Alvin and Sally Beaman Endowed Professor, oversees four academic programs, several campuses and online programs, the Center for Behavioral Health Research, and the Social Work Office for Research and Public Service. She has been dean since 1997 and is currently the longest-serving dean at UT.

A scholar fellow in the National Academies of Practice, Sowers is nationally known for her research and scholarship in the areas of international practice, juvenile justice, child welfare, cultural diversity and culturally effective intervention strategies for social work practice, evidence-based social work practice, and social work education. She was founding coeditor of the journal Best Practices in Mental Health.

Sowers serves on several local and national boards and councils including the Council on Social Work Education Commission on Research, the Sertoma Center, the Harmony Family Center, The Next Door, and the Helen Ross McNabb Family Center.

Founded in 1909, Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, tyra.haag@tennessee.edu)