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Cynthia Lietz named dean of Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

ASU President's Professor is 'the right person to lead college into the future,' Provost Gonzales says

portrait of Cynthia Lietz
December 14, 2021

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2021 year in review.

Cynthia Lietz has been appointed dean of the Arizona State University Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales announced.

“Watts College embodies the principles of the ASU Charter, doing highly impactful work in the communities which it serves,” Gonzales said in a statement. “Cynthia’s talents and passion for student success and solutions-oriented research, as well as her experience in building Watts College into being a force for building a healthy and vibrant community, make her the right person to lead it into the future.”

Lietz, a President’s Professor of social work, had been the college’s interim dean since July. Before that, she had served as its vice dean since 2016.

“I am deeply honored to lead the Watts College,” Lietz said. “Despite the challenges before us, the future of the college looks very bright. I have no doubt in our capacity to work together to build more vibrant, healthy communities. Our faculty is exceptionally knowledgeable and highly respected, our staff is capable and caring, and our student body of earnest and dedicated learners and public servants motivates each of us to work toward this shared mission.

"We have had so much to overcome these past several months, yet again and again, our faculty, staff and students have more than risen to meet each challenge. Our excellence at the Watts College is embedded in our people, who devote themselves daily to not only recognize the problems, but to be the solutions. An exciting, impactful future lies ahead, and I can hardly wait to help us get there.”

Lietz has been part of the college’s leadership team since 2014, when she was appointed its associate dean of academic affairs. Before that, she spent two years as coordinator for the School of Social Work’s Tucson campus.

Lietz serves as principal investigator for ASU’s Bridging Success program, which assists students who have a background in foster care to succeed in college and beyond. As a scholar, Lietz conducts important research examining the process of resilience to understand more about how young people and their families cope effectively with trauma, loss and other challenges. Her body of published work includes two books and over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, and she has contributed chapters to numerous books on social work practice involving children and families.

ASU President Michael Crow named Lietz as a President’s Professor in 2020. She was selected as a fellow in the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership in 2017. In 2012, the Associated Students of ASU honored Lietz with the Centennial Professor Award for her commitment to teaching and community-based research.

Lietz earned her PhD degree in social work from ASU. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso (Indiana) University.

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