Lawler named dean of the School of Health Sciences at USD

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota announces that Michael J. Lawler, M.S.W., Ph.D., has been named dean of the School of Health Sciences.

Since coming to USD in 2010, Lawler served as chair and professor of the university’s Social Work Program. He has three decades of experience as a social work practitioner, administrator, educator and researcher, and served more recently as director of the Center for Human Services, co-director of the Center for Public Policy Research and department chair at the University of California-Davis.

“Dr. Lawler brings a wealth of experience to this position and we’re excited that he will lead the School of Health Sciences, its programs and our students, in their pursuit of excellence,” stated Dr. Rodney Parry, dean of the Sanford School of Medicine at The University of South Dakota.

In addition to being the principal investigator for a number of federal, state, tribal and county grants, Lawler developed several outreach, education and research centers at UC Davis to address social welfare policy and practice. His published articles, book chapters, and public policy papers address a range of social welfare issues including child maltreatment, child-parent relationships, juvenile justice, and human services education.

Lawler received the 2011 Career Achievement Award from the National Staff Development and Training Association, an affiliate of the American Public Human Services Association. He was awarded the 2010 James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award by the UC Davis Academic Federation and was a finalist for the 2010 Pro-Humanitate Literary Award presented by the Center for Child Welfare Policy of the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare. He earned a Ph.D. in human development from UC Davis, master of social welfare degree from University of California-Berkeley, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lewis and Clark College, and he is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He and his wife, Kimberly, have an adult son attending college.

A photo of Lawler is available for download at

USD’s School of Health Sciences has nine programs offering bachelor of science degrees in alcohol and drug studies, dental hygiene, health sciences, medical laboratory technology, nursing, and social work; an associate of science degree in nursing; master of science degrees in occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, and social work; master of arts in addiction studies; and a doctorate of physical therapy degree.

For more information about The University of South Dakota’s School of Health Sciences, please visit or call (605) 677-6572.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 198 undergraduate and 79 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hailie Warren
USD News