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Dean Flynn receives presidential Volunteer Service Award

Maya Meinertby Maya Meinert
Clinical Professors Murali Nair and Renee Smith-Maddox present the President’s Volunteer Service Award to Dean Marilyn L. Flynn. (Photo/Andrew Taylor)
Photo: Clinical Professors Murali Nair and Renee Smith-Maddox present the President’s Volunteer Service Award to Dean Marilyn L. Flynn. (Photo/Andrew Taylor)

Marilyn L. Flynn, dean of the USC School of Social Work, has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in honor of her commitment to strengthening the United States by making a difference through volunteer service.

The award program, an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service, recognizes outstanding volunteers to set a standard for service, encourage a sustained commitment to civic participation and inspire others to make service a central part of their lives.

“In my inaugural address, I state that we need a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world,” President Barack Obama wrote in a letter to Flynn. “These are duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit than giving our all to a difficult task. Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise.”

Clinical Professor Murali Nair, who has been affiliated with the corporation for 25 years as a consultant and grant application reviewer, nominated Flynn for the award.

“Dean Flynn’s commitment to helping others and making new connections that bring us closer together as part of the USC School of Social Work family is one of the highlights of my nomination effort,” he said. “Her demonstrated commitment and example inspire others to engage in volunteer service and make service a central part of our lives.”

Flynn has dedicated much of her life to the betterment of others through advancing social work education as well as the profession of social work. She became dean of the School of Social Work in 1997, and under her leadership, the school significantly expanded its research capacity by recruiting a nationally recognized faculty to conduct clinical and intervention studies in health, mental health, behavioral health, aging, homelessness, and child development and services.

She established the school’s military social work program, the first of its kind at a civilian research institution, and obtained the first congressionally directed appropriations ever received by a school of social work to create the Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families. She also led the launch of a Web-based Master of Social Work degree program, the MSW@USC, which has allowed the school to become the first national school of social work, serving a diverse group of students who otherwise might not be able to earn an advanced degree.

“I could not be more honored to accept this recognition, which reflects so clearly the commitment of our school and all social workers to the well-being of communities and community organizations,” Flynn said.

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