University of Southern California

About USC

Marilyn L. Flynn

Marilyn L. Flynn is a transformational leader whose career has spanned appointments in higher education, consulting on strategic planning for county governments and nonprofit organizations, practice in mental health and school social work, and membership on numerous boards at the local, national and international levels.

She was appointed dean of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work in 1997, only the second woman to hold this position in the school’s 100-year history. During the 17-year period of her tenure, she has expanded the school’s faculty from 23 to 100 full-time faculty, who now offer graduate instruction on campus and across the nation in 38 states.

Flynn created the first military social work specialization in a major civilian research university, introduced ground-breaking changes in field education for the more than 3,000 students now enrolled at USC, and established the first career services program for social workers focused on non-traditional occupational settings. In 2012, she received the International Sarnat Award for Public Advancement of Social Work, an award conferred by the National Association of Social Workers in Washington, D.C.  In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the USC Provost’s Prize for Educational Innovation. She also received from President Obama the National Award for Community and Volunteer Service.

She helped found the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, and was the first president of the St. Louis Group, representing most U.S. schools of social work in major research institutions. At USC, she greatly expanded the Hamovitch Center for Science in the Human Services and established the nationally respected Flynn Prize for Social Work Research. Flynn is currently a member of the Grand Challenges Executive Planning Committee on the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare; faculty member of the New York Academy of Medicine Leadership Training Program; and organizer of the Islandwood Roundtables, designed to advance science in the social work profession, doctoral education and the professoriate.

As president of the board of directors for the national Network for Social Work Management over the past five years, she organized, funded and implemented the 2008 Institute on Management Training, and expanded regional membership of the organization to include new chapters in San Diego, Los Angeles and New Jersey. She is also recent past president of the board for the Los Angeles Center for Nonprofit Management and past president of the board for the Fisher Art Museum in Los Angeles.

Flynn received her master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana, with specializations in social work, social policy and public finance.

Last Updated: 9/14/16