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Alumni

Dr. Mark D. Olson

Dr. Mark D. Olson is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Illinois State University. Dr. Olson received his Ph.D. from Barry University in 2007. His research interests include predictors of student self-efficacy, particularly related to complex issues and systems such as the military and multigenerational family systems. Dr. Olson served as co-PI for a project funded by the Hartford Foundation to integrate gerontology content into social work curriculum, and helped develop an online veteran studies program funded through a grant by the Department of Education. He recently participated in an interdisciplinary study that brought together paramedic and social work students in simulation training labs to assess clinical skills and students’ ability to collaborate with other disciplines.

Dr. Olson has published articles in Educational Gerontology, Military Behavioral Health Journal, and the Forum on Public Policy. In 2014 he published “Exploring the Ethical Dilemma of Integrating Social Work Values and Military Social Work Practice” in the journal Social Work. Dr. Olson serves as consultant for the Military and Family Life program, providing education and counseling to veterans and their families through a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dr. Olson has taught courses in research foundations, program evaluation, and clinical practice at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He was voted Social Work Educator of the Year by the Northwest Florida Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in 2011, and received Special Congressional Recognition of Outstanding Service to the Community by U.S. Congressman, Jeff Miller.



Rhonda E. Hudson, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Rhonda E. Hudson joined the faculty at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, in August, 2006, just prior to completing her PhD at Barry University in 2007. She currently serves as a Professor of Social Work and Acting BSW Director in the Union University School of Social Work, which is a division of the Department of Education and Human Studies. Dr. Hudson teaches courses in the Practice and HBSE sequences in the BSW and MSW programs. She is also a certified Quality Matters Peer Reviewer for online courses at Union University.

Dr. Hudson earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida A & M University, in Tallahassee, FL, and her MSW and PhD degrees from Barry University, in Miami Shores, FL. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Dr. Hudson’s scholarship is primarily in the area of empowerment practice. She is author of the chapter on the “Empowerment Model” in A. Gitterman, & R. Salmon R. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups, and co-author of “Empowerment approach to social work practice” in F. A. Turner (Ed.), Social Work Treatment (5th Ed.), as well as, “Ethnic Identity and Propensity for Practice among African Descendent MSW Students” in the Journal of Social Work Education. She has facilitated bereavement groups with HIV+ African American women, using principles from the Empowerment Approach, and has also made scholarly presentations on several topics, including bereavement and grief, and church and faith-based partnerships in providing hospitality and shelter to homeless men.

While pursuing her academic career, Dr. Hudson has raised three sons, Percy (26), Ronald (23), and Ryan (18). She has served as an at-large representative and co-chair of the Membership Committee for the International Association of Social Work with Groups (IASWG), and currently is President of the Board for Area Relief Ministries, Inc. In the community, Dr. Hudson also serves as the Coordinator for Room in the Inn Homeless Ministry and on the Praise Team at Northside Assembly of God.



Dr. Leslie E. Tower

Dr. Leslie E. Tower is a Full Professor at West Virginia University, holding a dual appointment in the School of Social Work and Department of Public Administration. Dr. Tower joined the WVU faculty in 2002 after receiving her PhD in Social Work from Barry University in 2001. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2008.

Dr. Tower’s scholarship has focused on women, including domestic violence, and continues to focus on women learners and women and work. In her 12 years at WVU, Dr. Tower has published more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, appearing in such venues as Journal of Social Work Education (JSWE) and Public Administration Review (PAR).

She recently co-authored Women and Public Service: Barriers, Challenges, and Opportunities, published by M. E. Sharpe. She has contributed additional scholarship in book chapters, for example, and presented approximately 15 papers at national conferences. Dr. Tower teaches courses in research, social welfare, and health policy.

As a co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Tower leads the policy development component of the WVU ADVANCE grant (HRD-100797). She works to change and develop work-life policy as a strategy to help women (and men) succeed in the academy. Dr. Tower developed and advocated for the institutionalization of the Parental Assignment Procedure and Lactation Programs at WVU. In recognition of this some of this work, she was named the 2009-2010 Mary Catherine Buswell Award recipient.

For the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), she Chair’s the Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education (or Women’s Council). Dr. Tower is married and has two children, 6 and 10 years old.

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