Beth Angell becomes University of Michigan dean; professor Kia Bentley retires after 33 years

Beth Angell, Ph.D., left the VCU School of Social Work after a four-year tenure, starting as the dean of the University of Michigan School of Social Work on July 1. 

Portrait of Beth Angell, Ph.D., dean and professor
Beth Angell, Ph.D.

Dr. Angell was the ninth full-time dean in the school's 105-year history. 

“Leading this school has been a tremendous honor and privilege, even during challenging times,” Angell says. “The past four years have been filled with change, learning and growing together, and I am incredibly proud of how our community adapted, transformed and thrived through unprecedented circumstances. The school is well positioned to emerge strong from the pandemic, with an excellent and dedicated faculty and staff, healthy finances, and a talented administrative leadership team.”

During her tenure as dean, the school developed and launched a fully online master’s degree in social work and a schoolwide effort to embrace a racial justice and equity agenda. Under her leadership, enrollment grew nearly 50 percent from Fall 2018 to Fall 2021 and was at 1,175 students for Spring 2022. The school has welcomed more than 25 new faculty and staff since 2018 and created supportive structures for faculty development and student success that enabled the school to adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before she left, we posed the following questions to Dr. Angell: 

What are you most proud of?
I am proudest of the things that our school was able to accomplish by working together as a team, and I would hold up in particular the launch of the online M.S.W. as an effort where collaboration across all of our academic teams and faculty members was critical and where we felt a sense of collective accomplishment. Our school has also really rallied behind our antiracism initiative, the Radical Alliance for Anti-Racism, Change, and Equity, and I feel good about the progress we’ve made in coming together around a set of shared values.

What memories will you hold most dearly of your time here, and what were some of the challenges?
Certainly, the pandemic was hard for many reasons, but being isolated from one another was very high on the list. For that reason, some of my best memories are times that the school was able to gather together for celebrations or Commencement. Our outdoor Commencement ceremony in May 2021 was particularly joyous because it took a great deal of planning and creativity and it brought so much happiness to our faculty and grads.

What are your hopes for the future of the school?
The school’s future is bright and limitless. I see faculty, staff, students and alumni continuing to push forward their commitments to excellence in the various ways they enact our mission.

Kia J. Bentley, professor, Ph.D., LCSW

As a master’s graduate considering the possibility of pursuing her Ph.D., Kia J. Bentley had one of those “aha” moments with the universe.

Portrait of Kia Bentley, Ph.D., professor
Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D., LCSW

A letter arrived, addressing her, mistakenly, as Dr. Kia J. Bentley. “I thought, mmmmm, that looks right somehow,” she says.

A few years later, in 1987, it was official – Dr. Bentley had earned her Ph.D. from Florida State University. And two years later, after a stint teaching at Louisiana State University, she began her career at the VCU School of Social Work.

Having completed her 33rd academic year with the school, Dr. Bentley retired in June as tenured professor.

She was also named the school's first Distinguished Career Professor. "I am pleased to be named, especially since I am the first in the school," Dr. Bentley says. "It's a meaningful honor given it had to be approved by a committee of my peers."

She says mentoring students, particularly those in the doctoral program during her time as program director from 1999-2012, was a career highlight.

“There is no question that my advising/mentoring of my 11 doctoral graduates, 10 here in this school, have been the most memorable and rewarding aspects of my career,” she says.

Before she retired, we posed the following questions to Dr. Bentley: 

What are you most proud of?
I am certainly also very proud of the culture of completion and the successes experienced by all the 100 or so doc students whom I recruited, taught and shepherded through the program when I was chair for those 13 years. We truly built a lovely community of young-in-career scholars. I have also done considerable formal and informal mentoring of faculty here at the school and university and with one or two nationally.

What will you miss most as you retire?
Standing in front of the classroom and seeing a student write down something I said. Catching up with beloved colleagues at national conferences.

What is next for you?
More golf, more visits to gardens and art museums, more wine and cheese-related travel, perhaps a tiny internet business selling kitchen stuff, perhaps compiling a seafood cookbook for family and friends. But, for sure, more piddling around the house and yard with Marti, my spouse of 44 years.

Other faculty departures

  • Jill Butler, M.S.W., M.S., online M.S.W. field coordinator and assistant professor in teaching
  • Daryl Fraser (B.S.'00/H&S; M.S.W.'07/SW), associate professor in teaching 
  • Abbie Kinnebrew (M.S.W.'05/SW), LCSW, associate professor in teaching
  • Johnnie O'Neal (Ph.D.'13/SW), visiting instructor

Staff departures

  • Tim Chavous, M.Ed., lower-level B.S.W. student success advisor
  • Andrew Frazier, B.S., student recruitment specialist
  • Casey Jensen (M.S.W.'17/SW), director of recruitment and admissions
  • Quinn Mathlin (B.S.'12/GPA), academic and student affairs administrative coordinator
  • Nicole Passmore (B.S.'17/H&S), communications specialist
  • Dana Regusters, M.S.W., interim B.S.W. field coordinator
  • Katelyn Turner (B.A.'19/H&S), front desk assistant
  • Stephanie Walker, M.A., enhanced learning spaces specialist

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