Cynthia Lietz

Cynthia Lietz named interim dean of ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions

By

Linda Obele

Cynthia Lietz, a President’s Professor of social work who has served as vice dean since 2016, has been named interim dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University.

Lietz’s appointment follows the announcement by Montclair State University in New Jersey that Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell will become its ninth president Aug. 2.

“It is an honor to be asked to lead the Watts College as interim dean,” Lietz said. “I am proud to be part of this college. Our amazing faculty are leading experts in their respective fields, our talented staff work tirelessly to advance our mission, and our students inspire me each and every day. Our future is bright. I am eager to build upon the positive momentum established under Dean Koppell’s leadership and prepared to provide a sense of stability after experiencing what was an important and yet difficult year.”

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. 

Koppell said he is confident in Lietz’s ability to lead the college during this transition. 

“Cynthia’s leadership has been extremely influential in the success of Watts College, and I am certain she will not just continue to guide the college with a steady hand but will lead our outstanding faculty and staff to greater heights,” Koppell said. “She believes passionately in our public service mission and is completely devoted to the college’s commitment to equity, inclusion and community engagement. I look forward to watching Cynthia apply her own deep knowledge and experience teaching and training the next generation of public servants. There is no better person suited to take on this role. Cynthia will enjoy the support of the Watts community and succeed on all dimensions.”

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 its 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 University in Indiana.