John Bricout joined the School of Social Work as director on August 1 with a goal of building on the school’s already strong reputation. He comes to Minnesota from the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he served as a professor for seven years and as associate dean for research and professional development for six years.
Bricout’s research interests center on social technologies and how they can improve the lives of people with disabilities. He will continue working on two of his current research projects. One, funded by the National Science Foundation, involves creating a learning network of people with disabilities who use robotic arms mounted on wheelchairs. The goal of the other, funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, is to develop a model for respite care of individuals with developmental disabilities whose caretakers are older adults.
Bricout explains his vision for the school with three words: destination, discovery, and dedication.
Destination indicates the school becoming a sought-out resource for cutting-edge knowledge and practice information in its researchers’ areas of focus.
Discovery refers to the school’s diversity of thoughts and perspectives generating innovative responses to emerging social issues and helping prepare students for dynamic work environments.
Dedication references the school’s 100 years of service, which allow a long-term perspective—guided by the principles of social justice and valuing diversity—on deep social challenges.
“I want generations of graduates to continue to benefit from the sustained efforts and legacy of the school’s community of educators, scholars, practitioners, and learners,” Bricout says. “We need to build on the strengths of the school in each of the three areas.”
Bricout is the University’s tenth director of social work since the program began in 1917. He succeeds professor James Reinardy, who has served as director of the school since 2006 and now returns to the faculty.
See also “Building a better world: social work celebrates a century” in the fall 2017 issue of Connect.
Story by Jacqueline Colby | Photo courtesy of John Bricout | Fall 2017