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Mary Ruffolo and Mieko Yoshihama Receive 2021 SSW Distinguished Faculty Awards

May 3, 2021

Professors Mary Ruffolo and Mieko Yoshihama have been named 2021 SSW Distinguished Faculty for their dedication to scholarship and teaching, for their excellent service to both the School and to students.

Mary Ruffolo, the Rosemary A. Sarri Collegiate Professor of Social Work, has been at the School since 1998. She has brought her visionary and creative thinking to a number of leadership roles at the School, including director of Continuing Education, director of the Office of Global Activities, and has twice served as associate dean for educational programs.

Ruffolo is an expert in social work practice in mental health with children and youth. Her most recent publications on mental health and well-being include an examination of loneliness in an era of COVID-19. Her core scholarship illuminates the path to improvements in the areas of interprofessional training, curriculum innovation, and workforce development. She has also published extensively in the areas of innovations in MSW education and training.

Ruffolo has also been awarded several grants that focus on training MSWs students to work in medically underserved communities, in particular in Detroit. In doing so, she demonstrates commitment to the mission of not only the University of Michigan but also the profession of social work.

One colleague wrote, “From the development of undergraduate introductions to social justice programs, to utilizing technology as a method to improve education and the access to knowledge, Dr. Ruffolo has been an integral part of the advancement of the profession.”


Professor Mieko Yoshihama is recognized for her work on domestic violence and prevention both in the United States as well as internationally. Her diverse, rigorous and creative methodological approaches to research often are participatory, with connections to social action and activism. She has published extensively and one of her articles was cited for being the Best Violence Research Article in the highly selective journal Psychology of Violence.

Since joining the School in 1996, Yoshihama has had a significant role leading diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the School and in the larger university. She has been recognized for her service, receiving the Sarah Goddard Power Award and the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award. Within the School, she is a beloved teacher and mentor and has taken a leadership role in global pathway development, and in developing knowledge to inform implementation of Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice in curriculum and teaching.

As a colleague wrote of Yoshihama, “What does not come across in her CV is her extraordinary ability to exemplify social work values in the work she does, and her ability to bring together people with widely divergent backgrounds and life experiences to work on common goals.”

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