Transitions at USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Message to Faculty, Staff, and Students of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

From: Michael W. Quick, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

June 12, 2018

I am pleased to announce that Marilyn L. Flynn, who has served USC for 21 years as dean of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, has accepted the role of Special Advisor in the Office of the Provost, effective July 1, 2018.

In this new position, her guidance on university-level efforts and community engagement will be invaluable. To assume the role, she will step aside as dean of the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. John D. Clapp will serve as interim dean while we conduct a national search for a new dean.

We owe Marilyn a tremendous debt of gratitude. For more than two decades at USC, she has been a visionary leader, constantly embracing innovative opportunities to produce creative and compassionate social workers and nurses who serve and advocate for vulnerable communities with diverse needs.

During her tenure, the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work achieved remarkable growth in funding for its scientific work, attracted the most interdisciplinary and accomplished faculty in the field, and expanded the scope of graduate preparation to include nursing and non-traditional specialties such as military social work. Today, the school stands as the only truly national social work and nursing program among its peers; this is a result of her pioneering leadership in expansion of online education.

She obtained endowed chairs and professorships for many of the school’s faculty and an endowment for the school itself, which was named in 2016 with a $60 million gift from the most generous benefactor in the history of the profession, Suzanne Dworak-Peck.

Dean Flynn has also been recognized at the national level for the major impact she has made on building the capacity of social work as a profession. She was a principal figure in the creation of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, the inaugural president of the St. Louis Group, which represents deans from social work programs in research-intensive universities, and is a co-chair of the steering committee of the Grand Challenges for Social Work initiative.

She has been heralded by academic and community leaders alike as one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial leaders in social work in the country.  We have been incredibly fortunate to have her leadership for the school and we now look forward to her contributions as a special advisor in my office. She will remain a member of the school’s faculty. Please join me in thanking her for her many years of dedication to the USC community and to the field of social work at large.

I also thank John Clapp for accepting the responsibility of interim dean and I look forward to working with him in this new role. John has served as Professor and Executive Vice Dean for Academic and Student Affairs of the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work since January 2017. He is known internationally for his research and translational work in the field of alcohol problem prevention, has published over 100 journal articles, and has been awarded more than $32 million in grants for his research and interventions demonstrations.

He is a fellow in the American Academy of Health Behavior and the founding co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. He has served as the director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery and on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention National Advisory Council.

In the coming months Marilyn and John, working together with Suzanne Dworak-Peck’s faculty leadership, will advance a smooth transition and lay the groundwork for the next chapter in the school’s nearly 100-year history.


Cc: C. L. Max Nikias
Academic Senate
Academic Deans
President’s Cabinet
Provost’s Cabinet