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Dr. Jerome Kolbo Guides Educational and Community Partnerships as USM’s Director for the School of Social Work

Fri, 08/02/2019 - 07:51am | By: Kendra Ablaza

Dr. Jerome KolboThe University of Southern Mississippi’s College of Education and Human Sciences recently appointed Dr. Jerome Kolbo as its new director for the School of Social Work. He began his role at the school, where he is also a professor, on July 1.

Kolbo previously served as interim director of the school since February 1. During that time, he oversaw a period of transition as the school worked on reaffirming its accreditation, filled multiple faculty and staff positions, and recruited undergraduate and graduate students in Hattiesburg and Long Beach. The school also established partnerships and pursued new, externally-funded initiatives that better incorporate the expertise and talents of its faculty during that time.

“It is an honor to serve as the director of the School of Social Work,” Kolbo said. “The school maintains an excellent reputation for championing numerous contextual realities in Mississippi including human rights and social justice issues impacting the most vulnerable, oppressed and disadvantaged populations. We work hard to address the critical shortages of trained professionals – those who can effectively and compassionately work with such vulnerable populations.”

Serving one of the most vital and fastest-growing professions in the United States, USM’s School of Social Work addresses the high rates of victims of maltreatment, human trafficking, homelessness, physical and mental illness, disability, illiteracy, and poverty by providing students with a wide spectrum of conceptual and practical tools to address these complex, multidimensional problems.

For example, face-to-face courses and educational experiences offering students the challenges and support needed for them to develop their skills as professional social workers in a variety of settings, from child protection workers in public agencies; family therapists in private practice; discharge planners in hospitals; policy analysts in advocacy organizations; entry-level practitioners; and chief executive officers in social service agencies.

The school is well-known for its partnerships and collaborations within and outside the University. Kolbo said the school recently partnered with USM’s School of Criminal Justice to create a Child Advocacy Studies Minor. It also works with other disciplines on campus and with universities across the state on research and scholarly activities to better understand and better serve Mississippi’s vulnerable populations. The school and different community partners even help combat food insecurity on campus through the Eagle's Nest Food Pantry, which is established and administered by social work students and volunteers.

Kolbo has been a professional social worker for 35 years, teaching in higher education for 27 years. He was an assistant professor at West Virginia University for five years before joining USM in 1997, where his roles have included full professor, Master’s of Social Work Coordinator, Associate Dean for USM’s former College of Health and Human Sciences, and Associate School Director.

Kolbo, a Kenmare, North Dakota native, earned bachelor’s degrees in Christian Ministry and Social Work from the University of Mary, a master’s degree from the University of Denver, and a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Trent Gould, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences, said he is pleased Kolbo will officially serve as the school’s director.

“Dr. Kolbo has an excellent reputation across campus and, more broadly, across the state of Mississippi,” Gould said. “I am confident that Dr. Kolbo’s extensive administrative experience will be a driving force for positive change for both the School of Social Work as well as the College of Education and Human Sciences.”

For more information about USM’s School of Social Work, visit