November 21, 2018

Dr. Will Rainford resigned Tuesday from his position as Dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service. He has served as dean since 2013. Dr. Marie Raber will serve as interim dean through the spring semester.

In offering his resignation, Dr. Rainford expressed his gratitude for the chance to serve the University and acknowledged that new leadership was needed to bring the school forward. He will return to his status as a tenured member of the NCSSS faculty after a spring sabbatical.

“I am truly blessed to have had the privilege to serve as dean for the last four years,” said Rainford in the letter addressed to President Garvey. “I am grateful to you for the opportunity. I resign with the knowledge that as a faithful Catholic, I have contributed my time and talent in ways that have benefited the University and the Church.”

President Garvey acknowledged the contributions Rainford made to the school. “He has improved the quantity and quality of our research, launched a successful online program, and hired a number of committed and impressive young faculty,” said Garvey. “I commend Dr. Rainford’s commitment to the Catholic mission of the school. Early on he made a particularly difficult decision to disassociate from the National Association of Social Workers, which advocates for access to abortion, a position that is contrary to the mission and values of The Catholic University of America.”

In October, President John Garvey suspended Rainford from his deanship for publishing a series of political tweets using the handle @NCSSSDean. The president convoked a review committee to assess the tweets and other concerns raised about the management and direction of NCSSS, and to advise him on next steps.

The President informed the committee of Rainford’s resignation and asked it for any related recommendations. The committee recommended that the University further study and clarify the mission of NCSSS in relation to the University’s mission. Consequently, President Garvey will order an environmental assessment to examine the current operations, direction, and atmosphere of the school and address the challenge of maintaining a distinctly Catholic approach to the field of social work.

“I hope this news will help faculty, students, and alumni to recognize that University leadership has heard and respected their concerns,” said Dr. Raber, who has been acting dean since Rainford’s suspension. “After his sabbatical Dr. Rainford will rejoin us on the faculty of the University.”