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New Psychology Department Chair and School of Social Work Director Announced

June 5, 2024

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences announces the appointment of Wendy Birmingham, associate professor of applied social psychology, as chair of the Psychology Department, and Stacey Shaw, associate professor of social work, as director of the School of Social Work by BYU President C. Shane Reese. The appointments became effective May 1, 2024.

Wendy Birmingham, Psychology Department Chair

“Professors Birmingham and Shaw have strengths that will benefit their department’s current needs and I very much look forward to working with them,” says Laura Padilla-Walker, dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. “I am confident these departments will continue to excel under this new leadership.”

Birmingham researches the physiological and behavioral pathways that link relationship quality and quantity to health outcomes and has twice received a Citation Award for Excellence in Research from the Society of Behavioral Medicine. She consistently publishes and presents with students she has mentored in her lab. She received a PhD in social psychology and health psychology at the University of Utah and completed a postdoc at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“Our department is such a collaborative group of individuals, and I want to keep that spirit of harmony and respect a part of who we are, both as colleagues and as children of God,” says Birmingham. She also expressed a desire to help students better see their potential. “As someone who was a non-traditional student, I understand how feelings of belonging help all students have confidence in what they can accomplish. Helping more students engage in inspiring learning and mentored research opportunities will better prepare them for any pursuit beyond graduation.”

Shaw researches refugee resettlement, mental health services, and religion and spirituality. She is the recipient of the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Research Grant and Early Career Faculty Award, which funded student support and international research on refugee experiences and services in Malaysia and Turkey. Her PhD in social work is from Columbia University and she previously worked as a caseworker in refugee resettlement at the International Rescue Committee.

Stacey Shaw, School of Social Work Director

“I love the BYU School of Social Work! We teach incredible social work students who go forth to serve people in the contexts of their environments,” says Shaw. “Right now, our program is in a strong place in terms of clinical training and collegial relationships. My top priority is to maintain those strengths, while also expanding the ways we serve communities and students.”

Padilla-Walker also expressed heartfelt thanks to outgoing Psychology Department Chair Gary Burlingame, who served in this capacity for six years. The number of psychology majors has doubled during his tenure.

“Gary is wise, patient, thoughtful, and visionary. He has made hard decisions during a time of extreme growth in the Psychology Department and has been instrumental in hiring many of the next generation of faculty for the department,” says Padilla-Walker. “We will miss his leadership and experienced perspective.”

Gordon Limb has been director of the School of Social Work for the past 16 years. “The influence Gordon has had on the school is immeasurable,” says Padilla-Walker. “He is selfless, faithful, and unifying — all while maintaining high standards. I have a hard time imagining our leadership team without his thoughtful and measured perspective.”

Department chairs for Economics, Geography, Political Science, and Sociology Departments, and the director for the School of Family Life have all been re-appointed for another three-year term.

See all department information in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.