Dr. James I. Martin Honored by Caucus of LGBT Faculty and Students in Social Work

Dr. James I. Martin
Dr. James I. Martin

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. James I. Martin was recently honored by the Caucus of LGBT Faculty and Students in Social Work, an independent organization he founded in 2003 as a networking and advocacy group for social work faculty members and doctoral students who identify as LGBT and/or focus their work on LGBT issues. Dr. Martin led the organization, which meets biannually at the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) and Society of Social Work and Research (SSWR) conferences and maintains an active listserv, as chair or co-chair from its founding until earlier this year.

Dr. Martin said he founded the organization because sexual and gender minority faculty often have little support within their institutions or opportunities to share ideas. “They may be the only person on their faculty who is openly LGBT or the only one doing work in this area. Among them, trans faculty are even less well represented,” he said. “Many people are surprised that it is still not easy to be a sexual or gender minority person in the academic world, including in social work, and it is especially difficult to have a scholarship and research program that is focused on LGBT populations. There didn't used to be any funding for research in this area, and scholarship on these issues continues to be marginalized. While there are more opportunities for scholars to do funded LGBT social work research than there were when the Caucus started, there are still not as many as for other areas of scholarship.”

Under Dr. Martin’s leadership, the Caucus has grown ten-fold to approximately 300 members from social work schools across North America as well as a small number in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Asked about his top accomplishment during his 16 years leading the organization, Dr. Martin said it was nothing less than ensuring its existence. For many years, he was fully responsible for maintaining the Caucus, including managing the membership list, coordinating and chairing the meetings at the CSWE and SSWR conferences, organizing a reception at the CSWE conference that was co-sponsored by the CSWE Council on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression, and, in the past two years, coordinating a reception at the SSWR conference as well. He noted that in 2011, the organization established a co-chair position and began the slow process of building a more formal structure, including establishment of an executive committee and terms of office, which has allowed him to transition from leadership without compromising the organization’s survival.

While Dr. Martin will no longer be in a leadership position, he will continue to be an active member of the Caucus. “Many members have talked about how important it has been to have an outside group of academics in the field with whom to network and grow,” he said. “That is certainly true for me.”