CSSW Council of Deans

The CSSW Council of Deans is comprised of 16 School leaders in charge of specific administrative areas to support our mission. Below is a brief description of the roles and responsibilities of each office.

Carmela Alcántara, Associate Dean for Doctoral Education, Associate Professor of Social Work

The Doctoral Office at the Columbia School of Social Work is responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategic planning of the Doctoral (PhD) Program in recruitment and admissions, as well as curriculum planning and management. A key function of the Doctoral Office is to monitor and support student progress on meeting doctoral program milestones (e.g., comprehensive examinations, dissertation) and successful preparation for the job market. The Doctoral Office also conducts continuous evaluation of Doctoral Program data to identify priority areas in student recruitment, enrollment, retention, and outcomes.


Heidi Allen, Associate Dean for Research; Associate Professor of Social Work

The Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs oversees several programs and offices. First is the junior faculty mentoring program which pairs junior faculty with one or two senior faculty to serve as formal mentors, includes a seed grants program, and directs faculty to available School and University resources. He oversees the Office of Computing and Instructional Technology which manages all laptop, desktops, and mobile devices used by CSSW faculty and administrative and research staff. The Office of Sponsored Projects is charged with administering all external grants proposal submission and providing post-award administrative support. The Office of Academic Affairs is charged with curricular development and oversight and staffing courses with instructors in the online and residential programs. The office also provides pedagogical and classroom management support. The Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs also addresses faculty- and research staff-related matters including overseeing mandatory reviews, promotion reviews of Associate Research Scientists, drafting appointment letters for new research staff, and serving on the Faculty Search and Committees and Committee on Academic Affairs (CAA) in an ex-officio capacity.


Melissa Begg, Dean of Social Work, Professor of Social Work & Biostatistics

The Office of the Dean manages and coordinates the administration of CSSW and the implementation of its strategic directions. It generates new initiatives as appropriate, is responsible for the financial management of the School, supports the work of committees such as the Committee on Academic Appointments and the Search Committee, produces School reports, oversees units that report directly to the Dean, works with the central administration, and represents the School externally. The following offices report directly to the Dean: Doctoral Education; Research & Academic Affairs; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Outreach; Strategic Initiatives; Development & External Affairs; and Administration, Finance & Planning.


Gerard Bueno, Senior Associate Dean for Administration, Finance & Planning

The Senior Associate Dean for Administration, Finance and Planning (SADAFP) serves as the chief financial and administrative officer of the School and is responsible for financial planning and operations, enrollment management, human resources, facilities management and administrative planning. Under the direction of the SADAFP, the Office of Administration, Finance and Planning (1) directs the recruitment and admissions activities of the school and (2) facilitates the procurement, hiring, space and other needs of the faculty and staff of the School of Social Work. The office works closely with the CSSW Office of Sponsored Projects in the management of externally funded activities. It serves as liaison to various University offices, including: Office of Budget & Management, Controller, Provost Office, Treasury, Internal Audit, Student Finance Services, Procurement, Human Resources, General Counsel and Facilities.


Cheiku Camara, Assistant Dean for Student Services

The Assistant Dean for Student Services leads the Offices of Career Services and Leadership Management, Student Life, and Student Services. The Career Services arm guides students and alumni toward successful career outcomes by providing resources, support, and connections to opportunities and networks that enhance their educational and professional experience. The Office of Student Life plans and oversees all aspects of student life, including but not limited to: managing our three student orientations each academic year; training peer mentors; and overseeing 25+ student groups and the Student Union. The team also plans and executes the school-wide graduation ceremony and advises and guides students in producing the school’s affinity graduations. Student Services manages student enrollment and all matters related to registration each term. The team administers program requirements and academic policies, conducts degree certifications, facilitates disability accommodations, assigns classrooms, manages student records and licensing paperwork, and provides market research around student enrollment and course data to other student support offices.


Moira Curtain, Associate Dean of Student Affairs & Dean of Students

The Office of Advising provides an integrated model to support students in the MSW program. Each student is assigned an advisor as their ‘point person’ who approaches the student’s education from a holistic perspective considering academics, field education, and life issues that may impact the student’s performance. Advisors ensure that students have the information, support, guidance, and resources they need to weigh appropriate academic choices and make timely decisions throughout their course of study.


Monique Jethwani, Associate Dean for Faculty Development & Academic Affairs

The Office of the Associate Dean of Faculty Development monitors the recruitment, screening, training and supervision of adjunct faculty and supports the professional development of faculty across all ranks through a variety of programs and initiatives. These include new faculty orientations; workshops on writing, grading, managing difficult conversations; the connection of new faculty with more experienced faculty for mentorship; community building events; and more. This office is also responsible for course scheduling, responding to grade appeals, the oversight of our course convening structure and facilitating dialogue between students and faculty. Supporting faculty includes focusing attention on the challenges and opportunities of teaching in diverse classrooms, and the delivery of a curriculum that is rooted in principles of social justice and anti-oppressive social work practice.


Kathryne Leak, Associate Dean for Field Education

A fundamental component in social work education is fieldwork. The primary purpose of field education is to provide practice opportunities that integrate course work theories and concepts; competencies and practice behaviors; and assignments afforded at the agency. The intersection of these key factors will provide students opportunities for development that are measurable and will promote the implementation of evidence-based practice in their work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.


Michael Lovaglio, Associate Dean for Enrollment Management

The Associate Dean of Enrollment Management oversees all functions of the Office of Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid. Admissions operations include strategic marketing and recruitment, best practices for inquiry and prospect management including outreach, communications and specialized events, and effective and timely application processing and review. The Office of Financial Aid is dedicated to providing a full suite of services to entering students and enrolled students that include financial aid packaging, financial aid and budget management counseling, loan processing, scholarships and appeals. Efforts are dedicated to helping provide access, support retention and lessen loan burden.


Karma Lowe, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Outreach

The Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Community Engagement oversees the Office of DEI, serves on the Dean’s Leadership Team as well as various school-based committees – e.g., Admissions and Financial Aid, Curriculum and Field Education Policy – and also represents the School on various university-wide committees and working groups, including the Inclusion and Belonging Task Force, Diversity Officers Network, and Inclusive Public Safety Working Group. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion oversees and develops school-wide programming and services that include: facilitating affinity group-based supportive spaces; conducting or hosting workshops and trainings related to navigating difficult dialogues in the classroom, implicit bias, and addressing/navigating identity and positionality, among others; organizing school-wide heritage panels and celebrations; providing mediation services to faculty and students; offering consultative services to faculty and students, including on syllabi development and classroom projects; and supporting and advising the Professional Development and Self-Awareness team and its programming.


Matthea Marquart, Assistant Dean for Online Education

CSSW’s Online Campus administrative team runs the School’s award-winning Online Campus, which offers the only fully online social work master’s degree in the Ivy League and among the top 3 U.S. schools of social work. They focus on offering innovative, inclusive online courses, by providing foundational and ongoing online faculty development; recruiting and managing a team of highly skilled and discipline-specific course technical support; conducting quality assurance reviews of all online course sites; providing tech orientations to prepare online students for success; continuously improving operational processes and support for developing new courses and refreshing existing ones; and collaborating with other leaders in the field to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning for online and social work education.


Ann McCann Oakley, Associate Dean for Computing & Instructional Technology

The Columbia School of Social Work maintains its own Office of Computing and Instructional Technology (OCIT), with 10 full-time IT and AV staff as well as 20 temporary part-time employees who support 300 residential courses that are online due to the COVID pandemic in the 2020-21 academic year. The two primary functions/services of OCIT are to: (1) provide a secure and reliable IT infrastructure, both onsite and offsite, for faculty, researchers, administrators and students; and (2) support the instructional technology needs of faculty, students and staff.


Desmond Patton, Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum Innovation & Academic Affairs, Associate Professor of Social Work

The Senior Associate Dean for Curriculum Innovation & Academic Affairs has responsibility for fostering curriculum innovation among faculty, supervising course convening, and serving on various faculty committees, including the Curriculum Committee, which he chairs. His Office also provides leadership and support to the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of Professional Excellence (CSSW’s continuing education arm), and the Writing Center (a resource for all MSW and PhD students across the School).


Susan Smith, Dean’s Office Chief of Staff

The Dean’s Office staff members, the Chief of Staff, Executive Assistant, and Administrative Assistant to the Dean, provide administrative support to the Dean as she carries out her responsibilities for the management and coordination of the administration of CSSW, the implementation of strategic directions, and new initiatives. This team coordinates meetings and selected school-wide events, maintains the Dean’s calendar of internal and external commitments, prepares and organizes meeting materials, and prepares correspondence and reports. The Dean’s Office team also provides support to the Faculty and Council of Deans meetings and several CSSW committees.