School of Social Work Welcomes New Assistant Professor

Dr. Jennifer Crittenden

Please welcome Dr. Jennifer Crittenden, who joins the School of Social Work this summer as an Assistant Professor. Jen has a long history with the University of Maine (UM) and the School of Social Work. She received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from UM, graduating with highest honors from the Honors College in 2003. She completed our MSW program two years later and has since served as an invaluable field instructor, part-time faculty member, and member of our MSW Admissions Committee. She received her Interdisciplinary PhD in Gerontology from UM in 2019, with dissertation research examining the influence of role conflict on satisfaction and retention of older volunteers. Jen has been affiliated with the UM Center on Aging since receiving her MSW, holding a number of positions, including the most recent of Associate Director. She has garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in external funding support, both for her own research and that of the Center’s many collaborations around the State. In 2019 she was awarded $147,000 by the Corporation for National and Community Service to continue her dissertation research. We are so happy to welcome Jen to the School of Social Work on a full-time basis.


Photo of Robin WhitneySchool of Social Work Welcomes New BSW Assistant Field Coordinator, Robin Whitney (MSW, University of Maine 2010) will join the faculty at the School of Social Work on July 1, 2020 as our new BSW Assistant Field Coordinator. Robin has deep practice experience in child welfare. She worked for the Maine Department of Health and Human (DHHS) Services for 30 years, first as an eligibility specialist, and then in child protection since 1999. Her final position with DHHS was as the Child Welfare Program Administrator at the Bangor office, supervising 80 child protective workers. She has served as a Field Instructor for countless students and was the recipient of the School of Social Work Alumni of the Year Award in 2019. Robin will be an integral part of the School’s Field Team, with primary responsibility for BSW students. She will be the instructor of SWK 395, Junior Field. We are very excited to have her join the School of Social Work community.


Filed Department Faculty
University of Maine Social Work Field Unit

Field Team in Transition

This summer the School of Social Work will experience a dramatic change with the retirement of both Nancy Kelly, the School’s Field Director, and Deirdre Finney Boylan, our Belfast Coordinator. We are so fortunate that Leah Maxwell, our Distance Coordinator, who has been a key member of the Field Team for three years, will take over as Field Director in September. Thankfully we will have her many skills and broad experience to guide us through this significant transition. We are currently in the process of hiring a part-time BSW Assistant Field Coordinator and a new Distance Coordinator, to join Leah on the newly constituted Field Team.

We had planned May 21 to be our day to publicly acknowledge all that Nancy and Deirdre have contributed to the School through a retirement reception honoring their years of service—44 years combined. Sadly, we are not able to hold that celebration, and our words of gratitude and goodbye are happening in a more piecemeal fashion. Former Director, Gail Werrbach’s planned remarks for that cancelled event are linked below. She eloquently captures the many contributions both Nancy and Deirdre have provided our School, our students, and the wider social work community.

Nancy Kelly, who has been our Field Director for 28 years, is the architect of the School of Social Work Field Program as we know it today. She has brought her intelligence, her extensive knowledge of the Council on Social Work Education’s standards and the National Association of Social Work’s code of ethics, her excellent networking skills, her creativity, and her drive to make sure we are always doing the very best we can do, to all aspects of her work, whether developing Field Instructor trainings, establishing new community placements, guiding students in their field experiences, or coaching the many faculty who have taught Field Seminars. Her generosity is legendary, demonstrated through committee work, student advising and advocacy, and all that she has given the community at large. Her deep knowledge, her can-do spirit, and her tireless work ethic was displayed recently in how she and the Field Team responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on students in field practicums. She, Deirdre and Leah have put together a rich list of alternative field activities for students needing to leave their field sites; individually worked with students and agencies to assure safety, as well as continuity; and established complex contingency plans for students entering placements this summer and coming fall. This has been done thoughtfully and creatively, with extensive research and communication, all hallmarks of how Nancy has led the Field Department during her nearly three-decade tenure.

Deirdre Finney Boylan is also responsible for building a key program at the School—the MSW Weekend Program at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast. She was hired as the Belfast Coordinator 16 years ago, after several years teaching part time at the School. She was essential to the success of the School’s first major step into distance education. Throughout her tenure, Deirdre has served as the liaison between Orono and Belfast and made sure students were well integrated into all aspects of the School of Social Work. She has advised countless, non-traditional students holding full-time jobs, to help them balance the demands of the MSW program with other aspects of their already full lives. Over the years our distance program has evolved to be an online-blended program and Deirdre’s energies have shifted more fully to the Field Department, serving as the de facto Associate Field Coordinator. She has been an invaluable member of the three-person Field Team for the past decade. Moreover, Deirdre has been a consistent and highly valued member of multiple committees at the School: MSW Admissions, Curriculum, and Academic Standing. Her contributions to committee discussions are always wise and well considered. We will miss her clear communication, her clinical insights, her sense of humor, and her collegial spirit.

We wish both Nancy and Deirdre the happiest, healthiest and most fulfilling of retirements, even as we will miss them both profoundly.

Please click on the links below to see a touching tribute from the  School’s Retired Director, Gail Werrbach

Nancy Kelly Retirement

Deirdre Finney Boylan Retirement


Interested in beginning your social work education at the University of Maine? We want to hear from you today!

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At the University of Maine School of Social Work, we prepare proficient and ethical social work professionals committed to social change in a variety of organizations, specializations, and professional roles.

We provide the highest quality education for both beginning and Male Student and Faculty Member in a one-on-one sessionadvanced professional social work practice. We educate at the Baccalaureate and Master’s level in an atmosphere of individualized learning, respect for individual rights, and a celebration of diversity.

Graduates from the School of Social Work go on to serve as social work clinicians, program planners, administrators, and community change agents in a wide range of public and private settings and systems. As a member of our diverse and dedicated community of students, faculty, field instructors, and alumni, you will transform your commitment to improving the quality of life for people into professional knowledge and skills. You will be poised for a successful and personally rewarding career promoting social change by providing services to individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations.

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