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UTCSW Welcomes New Faculty

The UTCSW welcomed eight new faculty members this fall at both the Knoxville and Nashville campuses.

allison buzard headshot

Allison Buzard
Nashville MSSW Program Director and Associate Professor of Practic

Buzard comes to UT from her last role as the Program Director of Social Work and Assistant Professor at Trevecca Nazarene University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work with a minor in Spanish from Asbury University, a Master of Social Work from Saint Louis University with a concentration in communities and a certificate in nonprofit administration, and a DSW from the University of St. Thomas. Buzard’s scholarship agenda centers on anti-racist pedagogy within social work education. As a Social Worker, Buzard spent her career working with individuals, families, and communities impacted by systems such as juvenile probation, mental health, foster care, and public schools. Social work practice transformed Buzard’s paradigms and passions and propelled her toward anti-oppressive, anti-racist, equity-focused, and empowerment frameworks. Now as professor, she works to translate those paradigms, passions, and frameworks into the classroom.

Mary Gitau
Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Practice

A graduate of the University of Wyoming, Dr. Gitau is an expert on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She comes to UTCSW from Clarke University, where she was Associate Professor in Social Work and Deputy Title IX coordinator. She also chaired a committee on the implicit curriculum for the social work department at Clarke. Dr. Gitau’s scholarship focuses on restorative practice, DEI issues in the classroom, and working with women in an international context. She teaches across the curriculum: macro practice, diversity and inclusion, policy, and research. Dr. Gitau established social work projects that involve students and community partners on both local and international levels. She founded a nonprofit nongovernmental organization to engage in community and youth development activities in rural Kenya, led study abroad programs for students, and has been an active organizer for an annual African Celebration event in Dubuque, Iowa.

Robert Lucio
Online MSSW Program Director and Associate Professor

A graduate of the University of South Florida, Dr. Lucio served on social work faculties at the University of South Florida and St. Leo University. He has been actively engaged in online education for more than a decade. He is considered an expert in accreditation, having served as director of assessment and evaluation at St. Leo University, where he gained experience with social work and university-level (SACSCOC) accreditation processes. Dr. Lucio’s research focuses on child and youth development, risk and protective factors for mental health, school social work, and social work education. A fluent Spanish speaker, Dr. Lucio’s research and practice has included a focus on Latinx populations, including 15 years of practice experience with English- and Spanish-speaking children and their families in home, treatment, and school settings. He has been a leader in the National Association of Social Workers—School Social Work Specialty Practice Section, the School Social Work Association of America, and state and local human rights organizations in Florida.

Emily Rodriguez headshot

Emily Rodriguez, MSW, LCSW
Assistant Professor of Practice

Rodriguez transitioned from UTCSW staff, where she worked as an advisor and taught the introductory and first year seminar courses, to a full-time faculty member. Prior to that, she worked as a program supervisor at Disc Village in Tennessee and as a mental health care provider at Spring Health (an EAP program), Disc Village, and several mental health settings in Florida.  

Amy Shipp, MSW, LCSW
Associate Professor of Practice

Shipp is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience serving children and families, with a particular focus on children who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. She was the Director of Advocacy Services at the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. In this capacity, she oversaw and directed advocacy functions of the Center and collaborated with Forensic and Clinical Services to ensure provision of quality services for children and their families. Shipp received her BA in Psychology from Auburn University and MS in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.  

Jenna Smith
MSSW Online Field Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Practice

Smith received her MSSW from the University of Tennessee College of Social Work’s Nashville program. She has her undergraduate degree in Child and Family Studies from Carson-Newman University. Smith is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has a Certification in School Social Work. Her previous work experience includes an Adjunct Faculty position at the UTCSW Nashville campus; a LMSW/Faculty Assistant at Vanderbilt Primary Care and Women’s Health Clinics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; and an In-Patient Unit Social Worker PRN at Alive Hospice in Nashville.   

Latausha Stevenson
MSSW Online Field Coordinator, Assistant Professor of Practice

Stevenson has a Master of Science in Social Work from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a Bachelor of Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University. She is an LMSW, and is certified in CPR and first aid. Her previous work experience includes serving as a Lecturer/Supplemental Advisor at the UTCSW Nashville campus; an Admissions Counselor at Asension Saint Thomas Behavioral Health; a Social Work Director at Preston Taylor Ministries; and a Lead Therapist at Camelot Care Centers.  

Fei Wang
Assistant Professor

A 2023 graduate of Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Wang studies stress in caregivers for older adults, with special interest in historical trauma affecting caregivers, developmental disabilities, social participation, and resilience. She has experience with interdisciplinary teams in research and practice, with direct practice experience in medical social work. She teaches direct practice and program, and practice evaluation. As a student, she was active in coordinating a national symposium for the International Comparisons of Healthy Aging Interest Group of the Gerontological Society of America, led a student group in her college focused on building international connections, and served as a trainer on communication skills in practice for first year international social work students.