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Aaron Thompson named director of the School of Social Work

Aaron Thompson portrait

Jan. 7, 2021

Aaron Thompson, associate professor and director of the social work doctoral program, has been named director of the MU School of Social Work.

“Dr. Thompson received tremendous support in the selection interviews, and I am impressed by his vision for the future direction of the school,” said Kristofer Hagglund, dean of the School of Health Professions. “It is apparent to me that he cares deeply about the School of Social Work, its people, and its mission.”

A former school social worker and principal, Dr. Thompson has helped improve the lives of countless children and families through 25 years of education, research and service. Since coming to Mizzou in 2012, his work has focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and community partnerships to help families and youth who struggle with social, emotional, and behavioral health issues. As associate director of the Missouri Prevention Science Institute (MPSI), he and his colleagues at MPSI have brought over $30 million to the university to develop programs such as the Family Access Center of Excellence (FACE) of Boone County, the Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition, and the National Center for Rural School Mental Health.

“While it’s important to have a national footprint, I view the University of Missouri School of Social Work as our flagship state institution that has a responsibility to be responsive to the needs of people of Missouri,” Dr. Thompson said. “Here at MU, I am extremely fortunate and privileged to hold this position and have fruitful partnerships across campus and in the surrounding communities. It is my goal to honor this privilege by directing the resources of the MU School of Social Work to more fully engage our students in community needs and work to bring resources and access to persons who are marginalized in our communities.”

Dr. Thompson describes social work as a professional practice where one can combine compassion and action to develop, design and deploy programs and policies that impact people’s lives. “Our students want to get involved with the growing movement in our country and around the world toward social justice and equity,” he said. “A social work degree is a great platform for them to get involved within their own community so they can act as compassionate systems change agents — and together we can change the world.”