After 26 years of exceptional service to the School of Social Work, the University, the social work profession and the broader community, Margaret Spearmon is retiring on August 30. 

Currently a Senior Lecturer and the Chief Officer for Community Engagement and Diversity, Margaret has held nearly every leadership post at the School over two and a half decades, including Associate Director of Field Education (1997–99), Director of the Baccalaureate Social Work Program (1995–98), Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (1998–99 and 2003–2005) and Associate Dean for Professional Development and Community Engagement (2006–2011). 

“Dr. Spearmon’s lengthy history of leadership—unprecedented in the School’s history—speaks to the enduring high regard in which she is held by staff, students, faculty and deans, past and present,” said Dean Eddie Uehara in a letter nominating Margaret for the 2019 David Thorud Leadership Award, which she received this month.  

Examples of Margaret’s legacy include: 

IGD Curriculum Project: In the mid-1990s, Margaret spearheaded the integration of Intergroup Dialogs (IGDs) into the Bachelor of Social Work curriculum. As one of the few tested and evidence-informed alternatives to didactic methods in diversity education at the time, the IGD approach uses structured, facilitated interaction among students from different identity groups to enhance understanding, engagement and collaboration. 

Partnership for Integrated Community-Based Learning (PICL): In the late 1990s, Margaret played a pivotal role in implementing a curricular innovation that re-centered learning from the classroom to the community. PICL established eight learning sites at small, grassroots social organizations in Seattle for MSW students and established community-based research projects in collaboration with agencies, students and faculty.

Communities in Action (CinA): Margaret kick-started CinA, a community-based prevention system for adolescent health and development, in Southeast and Central Seattle. Margaret designed the partnership to include meaningful experiential learning opportunities for advanced MSW students. 

Diversity and Equity Planning: For more than two decades, Margaret has been central to the School’s efforts to create a more diverse, inclusive and equity-guided culture. Often a step ahead of her peers, she helped develop the School’s first diversity plan and standing diversity committee.  

Margaret has been honored by the University in numerous ways. In addition to the David Thorud Leadership Award, she has twice received UW Health Sciences’ Martin Luther King Jr. Award and was honored with the University’s Multicultural Alumni Partnership’s Distinguished Alumna Award for 2015–2016. This month, she was honored by the UW Evans School of Public Affairs as an “exceptional leader for racial justice on campus and in Seattle.”

Dr. Ed Taylor, UW’s Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, has called Margaret “among the truly quality leaders who have left an indelible impression on the School of Social Work and on the University overall.”

After her retirement, Margaret will continue to lead the development and implementation of the School’s diversity and equity plan on a part-time basis.