HomeNative HawaiianNative Hawaiian professor named as dean at University of Washington

Native Hawaiian professor named as dean at University of Washington

Michael S. Spencer will officially be the Ballmer Endowed Dean of the School of Social Work beginning July 1. The Native Hawaiian professor has been serving as interim dean since January 1.

According to the University of Washington’s website, Spencer is a UW Presidential Term Professor in Social Work and the director of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Oceanic Affairs at the University of Washington Indigenous Wellness Research Institute.

Spencer’s research focuses on health and wellness in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. His most current research examines the benefits of adding Native Hawaiian healers to the primary healthcare system in Waimanalo, O’ahu.

University of Washington Provost Mark Richards praised Spencer’s work in a UW news release.

“The UW School of Social Work plays a critical — and growing — role in supporting the behavioral health and human services workforce in our state. President Ana Mari Cauce and I are grateful to Dean Uehara for her outstanding leadership, and we are confident that Dr. Spencer will propel this work forward in a collaborative and thoughtful manner,” Richards said. “We look forward to his leadership and vision, especially in the areas of inclusion and social justice.”

There aren’t many Native Hawaiian faculty members in higher education. According to a 2020 report from the American Council on Education, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders made up only 0.2 percent of the 711,000 full-time faculty the report polled in 2017.

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