Social Work

University of Mississippi

Social Work Department Welcomes New Chair

Posted on August 1st, 2014 by Garrett Crowe


Dr. Daphne Cain, Chair and Associate Professor of Social Work

Out of the blue, Dr. Daphne Cain received an e-mail from the University of Mississippi asking if she would consider a position as department chair of Social Work.

“I was surprised to get the e-mail,” Cain said, “and flattered.”

She was then serving as interim director and associate professor of Social Work at LSU where she had been since 2001.

“[Then] I get a phone call from [UM] in November, and they were talking about expanding the Social Work program. They wanted to grow their bachelor’s and master’s programs. They wanted to create a PhD program,” she said. “The University of Mississippi wanted to provide quality experiences for its students. I wanted to be a part of that.”

As new chair and associate professor, Cain brings a host of experiences to the department. After earning her M.S.W., Cain spent a few years in residential child treatment, providing services to abused and neglected youth. Afterwards, she became a trained marriage and family therapist.

She earned her PhD in social work at the University of Tennessee in 2002.

Dr. Velmer Burton, dean of the School of Applied Sciences, believes Cain’s knowledge and experience will impact the department significantly.

“With a documented record as a teacher-scholar of social work, Dr. Cain brings both a vibrant and fresh perspective that will have a positive impact at Ole Miss and social work across the state,” Dr. Burton said. “We were able to recruit a nationally respected social work administrator and faculty member from LSU, a peer SEC institution. We see her appointment as a major win for the department, our students, and the School of Applied Sciences.”

With nearly 400 undergraduate and graduate students in the department, Dr. Cain’s vision is simple: More regional and national visibility.

She wants Mississippi communities to understand that UM will be the flagship for a social work degree. It is the only institution in the state offering a child welfare training academy. And in 2016, the program is up for reaffirmation of accreditation.

“We’ve already implemented the 2008 educational policies and accreditation standards from the Council on Social Work Education, our accreditation body. It is infused in the curriculum and syllabi. We’ve been capturing data for two years. We’re in such a good position for reaffirmation. We’re going to be successful,” said Cain.

In the fall semester, the department will embark on a national search for three new faculty members. It will allow the program to focus on other areas of social work at the University of Mississippi such as geriatric, military, and mental health social work.

Another area getting students’ attention is cyber addictions.

“They have whole hospitals dedicated to cyber addictions such as texting and gaming. It’s brand new, and students get really excited about it,” Cain said. “There’s so much you can do with a social work degree. It’s highly versatile with lots of significant job opportunities.”

Dr. Daphne Cain began her role as new chair and associate professor on June 16th. Her husband, Dr. Daniel Novak, also obtained a faculty role at the University of Mississippi. He is an associate professor in the English Department. Together, they bought a house that they enjoy with their five dogs.

“I’m deliriously happy living here,” Cain said. “When I first came for the interview, it felt like home.”