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Patrick Bordnick becomes school’s ninth dean

Dr. Patrick Bordnick is a researcher at heart, so when he applied to become the ninth dean at TSSW, he did his due diligence.

“I looked at what the school had to offer,” he said. “I looked at the faculty, the clinical focus, and the disaster mental health program. All of those pieces really fit well with my background, my areas of research, and my knowledge of social work education. It was a good fit on a lot of levels. For many years, I trained a search and rescue dog, so I was intrigued by the disaster mental health program. I also needed a place where my family would be comfortable, and New Orleans seemed to be the place where we would all be happy.”

But the biggest factor that led him to Tulane, where he assumed the role of Dean on July 1, was the community in New Orleans.

“The community is very important in Houston,” he said when speaking about his position as Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. “In Houston, we assessed the health and behavioral health disparities in the city and how the College of Social Work could serve the needs of the community. So when I was looking at New Orleans, I actually conducted a similar assessment. I learned that there was much commonality between Houston and New Orleans which is not apparent at a first glance. I thought some of the programs and strategies that we had developed in Houston would translate well in New Orleans and make a similar impact in the community. I was also excited by the strong clinically-focused students and faculty at TSSW. I think putting together strong community-focused programs with clinically-oriented students is the way we’ll move forward in New Orleans and grow TSSW.”

Patrick holds a bachelor’s in psychology, a Master’s in Social Work, and a Master’s in Public Health. He completed his Doctorate at the University of Georgia School of Social Work. He completed an NIH-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston focused on smoking and substance abuse. In 2000, Patrick returned to the University of Georgia as a faculty member. While at Georgia, he received his first NIH grant to use virtual reality technology to study nicotine dependence. In 2007, he joined the University of Houston where he founded the Virtual Reality Clinical Research Laboratory. The lab is a state-of-the-art facility that uses the latest computerized technology to study human behavior for the assessment and treatment of addictions including alcohol, drugs, food, and other mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

“In the future, I think my main goal is to raise the school’s reputation among the national and international communities for clinical training, community practice, and disaster mental health programs including disaster leadership training,” said Patrick. “I know these are lofty goals for the TSSW but I think being recognized on the national level is important. It’s about taking all the strengths of the talented faculty and students that are here in the school and putting the puzzle pieces together.” He goes on to say “We have a lot of talented researchers here, so getting more federal funding and doing community-level prevention and intervention research is very important. It serves the research mission of the school along with giving something back to the community. Serving the community is one of my core beliefs and I want to incorporate this belief into my long term plan for the school.”

But why Tulane?

“It was about finding the right fit,” he said. “When I saw the Tulane opening and I learned more about the TSSW, I grew more and more excited about the prospect of coming to New Orleans. It felt right. I literally went home the evening after my interview and told my wife that Tulane feels like where I belong.”

Outside of being a Dean, Patrick has three daughters – 10, 11 and 13 years old – and is married to Allison, who is an epidemiologist/toxicologist. All of Patrick’s children play soccer. Instead of early Saturday morning cartoons, his family watches as many international soccer matches as they can especially his family’s favorite team, Manchester United.

The avid photographer also has three dogs – a Great Dane, a rescued Labrador mix and a rescued Shih Tzu along with one cat. Patrick said the entire family loves all types of music from rock to country to blues, so New Orleans should offer them a chance to expand their love even more.

When asked what he hoped people thought about the TSSW, Patrick hopes TSSW will evoke thoughts of strong clinical practice and community based social work programs working to eliminate health and behavioral health disparities in New Orleans and beyond.

Published July 10, 2016. Written by Joseph Halm, Tulane PR.