Image of Dr. Rebecca Gomez

Award: Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award

Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs | Our Lady of the Lake University

The Distinguished Recent Contributions to Social Work Education Award is presented to Dr. Rebecca Gomez.

Dr. Gomez is PhD director at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU). She was previously MSW director and director of the Worden School at OLLU. Dr. Gomez is renowned for her use of technology as a way to increase access to quality social work education, coupled with a radical emphasis on building culture and community in distance education environments.
As director of the Worden School Dr. Gomez led a program in which students represented extreme geographic diversity including all 50 states and internationally. She pioneered the incorporation of tenure-track remote faculty members at OLLU to increase the diversity of faculty training, research, and experience. She also spearheaded research on this innovation to enhance the viability and effectiveness of remote faculty members. These innovative programs not only increased access and enrollment, they also supported underrepresented students, which resulted in high retention and graduation rates.

Dr. Gomez also pioneered and led the OLLU online PhD program, one of only three online PhD programs in the United States, which provided access to underrepresented students and filled an important gap in social work education by training faculty members especially for service in minority serving institutions. The use of targeted design, recruitment, and holistic admissions that reflected collectivist cultures resulted in an unprecedented representation of diversity in the inaugural cohort, which reflects a 36% increase in racial and ethnic diversity compared to other U.S. social work PhD programs.

Dr. Gomez was named a Top 30 Technologist, Transformer, and Trailblazer in 2017 by the Center for Digital Education; the Agnes M. (Lehman) Gloyna Award for Technological Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Our Lady of the Lake University; and The Texas Distance Learning Association Award for Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning by an Organization.

Dr. Gomez will join the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in August 2020 as associate dean of academic and student affairs.