New CBCS Dean Named

Julie Serovich brings two decades of administrative and research success to USF’s College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.


By Kevin Burke

Special to USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 7, 2011) — An international search for a new dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) at the University of South Florida has culminated in the appointment of Julianne Serovich, a widely respected couples and family therapist from The Ohio State University.


Serovich will provide leadership within USF’s interdisciplinary home for education, training and research aimed at improving the lives of others and is expected to take up her new role by summer 2012.


As chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Science at OSU since 2005, Serovich was integral to gaining accreditation for the Couples and Family Therapy (CFT) doctoral program as well as national attention for the department, which served ultimately to increase not only student enrollment (by 40 percent) but also the research productivity of an HDFS faculty that has roughly doubled in size. She also has been at the forefront of engaging faculty and students in the development of the undergraduate curriculum, including the design and implementation of a number of high-quality online courses.


At USF, Serovich assumes leadership of a college that was created to prepare students, scholars, human service providers, policymakers and others involved in quality of life issues for work that affects many diverse populations. CBCS currently enrolls nearly 2,000 undergraduate and 700 graduate students and generates upward of $44 million in research contracts and grants each year.


“Professor Serovich’s experience in maturing a complex and multi-connected academic program will be a tremendous advantage to the University of South Florida as we continue to look at developing new and challenging opportunities for faculty and students within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences,” said Provost Ralph Wilcox. “She is an accomplished, visionary leader who will enhance the college’s commitment to excellence and innovation in bridging the gap between science and practice within a community-centered model.


“In addition, her deep engagement in research that has such tremendous importance to community health speaks very well to USF’s balanced support for scientific research and community engagement,” Wilcox continued. “Her work sheds light on the enduring challenges — social and emotional as well as physical — confronting many in our community, and informs our understanding of human motivation when it comes to disclosing a significant illness.”


Serovich’s research focuses on the relationship between HIV disclosure to family, friends, and sex partners and the effects of sharing such information both on reducing HIV transmission and building social support structures for those coping with the illness. She is the principal investigator (PI) of the Kiss & Tell Project for Men and the Kiss & Tell Project for Women as well as other major studies that have resulted in more than 60 book chapters and peer reviewed publications.


Her work began more than two decades ago at Texas Tech University, where, after receiving her doctorate from the University of Georgia, she was named an assistant professor of marriage and family therapy in 1991. Also a graduate of Loyola College, Baltimore, she joined the OSU faculty in 1995 and was named the inaugural director of the CFT program. Since 1997, she has received grant funding in excess of $9 million, mostly from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH).


“I am extremely honored to be chosen as the next dean of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida. I am excited to work with the talented faculty, staff and students of the college as we seek innovative solutions to pressing real-world problems,” said Serovich. “I believe we are positioned to have an enormously positive impact on the challenges we face as citizens of the Tampa Bay community, the state of Florida and of the world.  I look forward to facing these challenges together and to producing groundbreaking discoveries that can shape policy and light the way to a brighter, healthier future.”


Established in 2008, CBCS is one of 14 colleges and schools on USF’s Tampa campus. Its collaborative units and academic strength position faculty, students and staff to lead USF's ascension to prominence as a research university with state, national and global impact. The college incorporates one of the largest behavioral health research and training institutes in the country, focused on multidisciplinary collaborations and a strong research continuum with depth and breadth in areas from basic behavioral sciences to clinical and services interventions, community-partnered participatory approaches and policy analysis, and the implementation of evidence-based and best practices within human service systems.


Kevin Burke can be reached at 813-974-0192.