Professor Neil Guterman to serve as SSA dean

Guterman will begin his five-year term on July 1, succeeding current SSA Dean Jeanne C. Marsh, who has served as dean for 16 years.

By Asher Klein

Professor Neil Guterman, an expert on maltreatment of children, will serve as the next Dean of the School of Social Service Administration (SSA), the University announced Monday.

Guterman will begin his five-year term on July 1, succeeding current SSA Dean Jeanne C. Marsh, who has served as dean for 16 years.

“It’s an exciting and opportune time to take the helm at the SSA, because, nationally and locally, there’s quite a bit of development and change going on in social welfare practices and policies, and the SSA, historically and the future, plays a lead role in…addressing some of the most difficult and entrenched social problems in American society,” Guterman said.

A U of C professor since 2006, when he joined the SSA faculty from Columbia, Guterman studies children’s exposure to violence and how to prevent child maltreatment.

Much of his own work, he said, has been on the effect of early home visitation services, which seek to prevent violence against children by fostering a positive environment before they are born.

He said he was encouraged by some of his colleagues to consider the position for dean because of his diverse background. “I bring an anchoring in the real world, the interdisciplinarity that is part of the genetic makeup of the SSA, and a value on top flight scholarship to reduce, in a tangible way, some of the most intractable social problems that we deal with on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Guterman has consulted with various government agencies to help set the agenda on child abuse and neglect prevention, including the Surgeon General’s Office, the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, according to his University biography. He is also director of the Beatrice Cummings Mayer Program in Violence Prevention at the SSA.

“The SSA is a really stellar institution, a very unique place in the sense that we have scholars from many different disciplines devoted to society’s most intractable problems. So it is a very exciting place to be,” Guterman said.

He said it was too early to discuss his plans as director, but noted an “opportunity” for the SSA to interact more broadly with Chicago.

“The SSA is historically a lead institution in advancing social welfare practices and policies in Chicago and nationally, and I think we face a real opportunity to deepen our partnerships in Chicago, and deepen our ability to make a difference in the surrounding community,” Guterman said.

Current Dean Marsh will take a sabbatical in July, before returning to the SSA to teach.