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Allan Cole, Ph.D.


Allan Cole serves as dean of the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. He is also the Bert Kruger Smith Centennial professor in social work and a courtesy professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Dell Medical School.

Leading the Steve Hicks School in its mission to “provide national leadership to promote social and economic justice, alleviate critical social problems and enhance human well-being,” Cole’s work focuses on helping faculty, staff and students thrive in research, teaching, learning and service. He also works to cultivate and strengthen partnerships with community stakeholders to ameliorate social challenges, especially those related to mental health, affordable housing and homelessness, among others. His experience and expertise in these ongoing efforts help align the School of Social Work with the university’s vision for community engagement and impact.

As a scholar, Cole is a nationally recognized authority on chronic illness, health humanities, bereavement, and the study of spirituality and religion in social work. The author or editor of 13 books, his latest works are “Counseling Persons with Parkinson’s Disease” (Oxford University Press, 2021), “In the Care of Plenty: Poems” (Resource Publications, 2021) and “Discerning the Way: Lessons from Parkinson’s Disease” (Cascade, 2021). His next two books, titled “Jumping to the Skies: Further Lesson’s from Chronic Illness” (Cascade) and “Riding the Wave: Poems” (Resource Publications), will be published later this year. Cole is also the author of dozens of chapters, articles and reviews in volumes and journals related to the fields of social work, counseling, and the psychology of religion, and he serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Spirituality and Religion in Social Work: Social Thought (Taylor & Francis).

Cole serves on the board of trustees at Headwaters School and on the board of directors at Power for Parkinson’s, a nonprofit organization that provides free exercise, dance and singing classes to those living with Parkinson’s disease in Central Texas and globally through instructional videos. He is a community advocate for and a regular guest contributor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Team Fox Blog.

Cole also moderates PD Wise, a hub he created for sharing personal stories, experiences and wisdom gained from living with Parkinson’s and that aims to encourage personal connections and opportunities for learning.

Cole is passionate about supporting students and colleagues in a range of efforts related to social work research, teaching, service, practice, and leadership.