EastBay Today

Posted February 14, 2018

Cal State East Bay Diversity Officer Included in Top Social Worker Ranking

Dr. Dianne Rush Woods is retiring this June after a 40-year career at Cal State East Bay.
Garvin Tso

Dr. Dianne Rush Woods, Cal State East Bay’s University Diversity Officer, was recently recognized as one of the country’s top 10 “dedicated and deserving” social workers in a listing published by the magazine “Social Work Today.”

According to the magazine, editorial staff ask readers to nominate their peers by sharing stories about the nominee and what he or she is doing to advance the field of social work. Woods is retiring this June, and this was her first time on the list. She says the recognition is an honor and a great way to sum up her 40-year career. 

“To be nominated and identified as a dedicated and deserving social worker is really one of the highest honors of my life,” Woods said. “My work within the profession has helped to support many others and has changed me over time.”

While at UC Berkeley as an undergraduate student, Woods said it was an internship at a halfway house for women recently released from prison that ultimately led her to social work. She was studying sociology and said for the first time she was able to understand and practice the theories she’d been learning.

After graduating from Berkeley, Woods received her Master of Social Work degree from UCLA and spent several years working in the mental health and substance abuse fields before accepting a lecturer position in the sociology and social services department at Cal State East Bay in 1999 and a tenure-track position in 2001. In 2003, with Professor Terry Jones, she became one of the founding members of the Master of Social Work program.  

She’s served many roles at the university, including social work field director, professor, department chair, chair of the academic senate and chief of staff to President Leroy Morishita before being appointed as the university’s first diversity officer.

“I fell in love with the student population here at East Bay, when I first walked on the campus,” Woods said. “I have never regretted my decision to work here. Developing programs and services that support the student success of all student populations, including students of color, first-generation, international, lower socio-economic status, religious minorities, LGBTQI, represents a worthwhile life’s work. I’m proud to be an administrator and faculty member at this campus."