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School of Social Work Head Karen Bullock To Take New Role

students walk across open area in front of building

After 11 years at NC State and nine years as head of the School of Social Work, Professor Karen Bullock is taking a new role as the Louise McMahon Ahearn Endowed Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work.  

Bullock first joined NC State in 2011 as an associate professor of social work before being named head in 2013. Under Bullock’s leadership, social work experienced significant growth in student credit hours and external funding. Bullock directed the unit’s transition from a department to a school and led a successful re-accreditation process. In addition, she provided leadership that propelled the school to become a nationally recognized program among the top-ranked schools of social work by U.S. News & World Report.

headshot of Karen Bullock
Karen Bullock.

“Karen’s leadership has been instrumental during this important time of growth for the School of Social Work,” says Deanna Dannels, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Her fierce advocacy for her discipline and community was critical in the transition from a department to a school, in the re-accreditation process, and in the tremendous growth in student majors.

“She has also overseen and participated in multiple external grants that benefit the communities of North Carolina — work that has established the school as a key player in NC State’s land grant mission. I am especially grateful for her fierce commitment to equity and inclusion with the school, college and university, as well as her stellar engagement with local community partners.”

Bullock, who earned her Bachelor of Social Work at NC State, is also a licensed clinical social worker, with more than two decades of experience in outpatient and inpatient healthcare practices. She has been a leading force in advancing social work, education and training in gerontology, mental health, hospice and palliative care.

Her research and practice focus on the care of persons with cancer and other serious illnesses, as well as health equity. She has published and presented nationally and internationally on these and other topics. 

Bullock is a John A. Hartford Faculty Scholar and serves on several national boards and committees. They include the Center for Practical Bioethics, the National Academies of Sciences, the National Association of Deans and Directors Council on Social Work Education, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force on Healthy Aging, and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force on Serious Illness Care. In 2021, Bullock was named a fellow for the Gerontological Society of America. 

In addition, Bullock consults and serves as a steering committee member of the Duke University Center for Research to Advance Health Equity and as affiliate faculty for the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She also has held clinical and academic appointments at the University of Connecticut Center on Aging; Hartford Hospital; the Institute of Living Inpatient and Outpatient Geriatric Services in Connecticut; Salem State College; Smith College; and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

After graduating from NC State with a bachelor’s degree in social work, she earned a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, and a doctoral degree in sociology and social work from Boston University.