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Q&A with Dr. Sam Jones
October 24, 2018

By: Aimee LaBrie 

Before joining the Rutgers University School of Social Work, Dr. Jones held the position of Associate Professor of Social Work at Long Island University, Brooklyn. During his 18 years on the faculty of LIU, he served as the BSW Program Director and Chair of the Social Work Department. During his tenure as Chair of the Social Work Department, he developed a specialized MSW component of the MSW Program for ultra-orthodox students. He continued to direct the ultra-orthodox program after he stepped down as chair.

As a family therapist, he specializes in working with families with members who are diagnosed with schizophrenia to help them manage the stresses of stigma, social isolation and the burden of symptom management associated with the illness. His training in this area came through his participation in a significant research project between NYS Psychiatric Institute (PI), and the New York State Office of Mental Health.

He also served as the Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR) of the Brooklyn Campus of LIU where he advocated for the well-being of the student-athletes and chaired the committee that provided academic oversight to the Athletic Department.

Dr. Jones earned his DSW and MSW degrees from Hunter College School of Social Work of the City University of New York. He is a graduate of the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services Advanced Family Therapy Program. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stony Brook University. He is a New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker and holds a certificate in Seminar in Field Instruction.

We were fortunate to speak with Dr. Jones about his the new Assistant Dean of Part-time Lecturer Development in the Office of Academic Affairs. 

Tell us more about your new role at the School.

The job description aside, which lays out pretty clear objectives, I believe my key focuses are to help part-time lecturers feel more integrated into the School, to give them clearer direction as to what their job is, and to ease some of the burden of the lead teachers, including pedagogical challenges and classroom managements. 

My main role is to serve as an ombudsman for the PTLs and to let them know they have a resource they can go to for any challenge. I will help them to either solve that challenge or find out who can help.  

What are some of the ways you will build toward these goals?

Many things have to be addressed. After speaking to several other departments at Rutgers, just through the on-boarding process of my own, I realized I need to get our PTLs well-situated right from the start. They need to become familiar with Canvas and how to handle room assignments, as well as knowing who to talk to when an issue arises. 

I also would like to start meeting face-to-face with our PTLS. Currently, we have about 150 part-time lecturers, and though I’ve met some of them on conference calls and at school-sponsored social events, I have not yet had a formal introduction. 

What would you like to see happen in the near future?

In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I liked to also organize a speaker series geared toward our PTL.s. I’m not yet sure what that looks like, but it could be hearing from one of the lecturers on a particular topic, or asking more generally what themes they’d like to see addressed. Generally, I want them to know that they have a voice at the School, and that that they are an invaluable asset to the School, as they are.  

What is your leadership style? 

I am a collaborator, and I like to include as many people as possible in generating ideas, though I take ultimate responsibility for any final decision making. I would like to spend some time learning the lay of the land and hearing from others before I make any suggestions.  

What makes an effective teacher? 

An effective teacher is someone who can communicate thoughts and ideas clearly, and someone who can engage students in things that excite them. A good instructor finds something in the subject matter the students can grab onto; a hook, if you will. Once you find that hook, students are more likely to engage with the material. 


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