School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

Dr. Denise Burnette stands on steps outside a brick building on the Monroe Park Campus.
Denise Burnette, Ph.D., on the Monroe Park Campus at VCU. (Photo by Allison Bell, VCU School of Social Work)

As a child of Southern Appalachia, Denise Burnette, Ph.D., VCU School of Social Work professor, was attuned to older adults and their life stories.

“They were fonts of wisdom and equanimity, bold equanimity,” says Burnette, the school’s Samuel S. Wurtzel Endowed Chair in Social Work. “As an academic, my research and teaching, at home and abroad, have never veered far from these foundational lessons.”

She has made working with older adults her professional mission, and has been a foundational member of the Gerontological Society of America’s Association for Gerontology Education in Social Work (AGESW). In the fall, she made history when AGESW awarded her its Career Achievement Award, making her the only person ever to receive both that award and its Faculty Achievement Award for early career scholars.

“It is such a rewarding experience to come full circle,” she says.

There is a strong historical bond between the VCU School of Social Work and AGESW, whose founding president in 1981 was Robert Schneider, Ph.D., a professor and assistant dean for 34 years at the school. AGESW honored him with the Career Achievement Award in 2006, two years before he retired from VCU.

“The award acknowledges Denise’s exceptional leadership in the realms of scholarship, teaching and mentorship in the fields of social work and aging,” says Kyeongmo Kim, Ph.D., VCU social work associate professor.

Dr. Burnette’s scholarship and teaching in social work and aging also extends to international settings. She has taught, conducted research and consulted, for example, in Albania, Mongolia, Moldova, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Botswana and India.

“I deeply appreciate her caring nature, creativity and openness to embracing diverse cultures,” Dr. Kim says.

»  See the full story at VCU News.

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