Trinity's Linda Burton to lead UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare

Linda Burton
After more than a decade of leadership in the social sciences at Duke, Linda Burton is leaving to head the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley

James B. Duke Professor of Sociology Linda Burton – former dean of social sciences in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences – has been selected to lead UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare, university administrators announced June 24.

A Duke faculty member since 2006, Burton has served the university in a variety of leadership roles. From 2014 to 2017, she was responsible for Trinity College’s 12 social science departments and programs. Her efforts as dean of social sciences included building interdisciplinary ties within the social sciences and across other divisions and colleges, instilling a stronger culture of mentorship and leadership, strengthening inclusive local community ties, championing the importance of socially relevant research in a changing world, and enhancing the college’s diversity.

“I’m thrilled that Linda has been presented with this opportunity, and Berkeley will absolutely benefit from her impressive scholarship and wealth of experience,” said Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. “During her time at Duke, she has been a great mentor to many and has no doubt inspired excellence in others. She has made a lasting impact and will missed.”

Burton also served as interim co-director of the International Comparative Studies program, chaired an important university-wide committee examining bias and hate issues on campus, and helped Duke negotiate a historic union contract with its adjunct professors.

As director of Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy from 2017 to 2018, Burton oversaw a research hub that evaluated strategies for improving the lives of families and worked with policymakers and public agencies to implement them. She also launched a research and policy initiative that focused on assessing the effects of policy-induced trauma on families and children in America’s South.

Burton is a renowned ethnographer who specializes in longitudinal studies of the family dynamics that exist among America’s poorest urban, small-town, and rural multi-generation families. Her work is wide-ranging: She has examined the intimate relationships of low-income mothers, complex family structures across space and time, the careers paths open to African American men and boys, accelerated life course transitions faced by poverty-stricken children and adults, and more.

Often, her research projects are vast in their scale: in one, she directed a team of 215 ethnographers and analysts as part of a three-city study of poverty, family processes and child development. She is currently serving as president of the Sociological Research Association, the international honor society for distinguished sociologists.

Burton holds a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology, all from the University of Southern California. Prior to her appointment at Duke, she was a faculty member at Penn State University for more than two decades, and directed its Center for Human Development and Family Research in Diverse Contexts.

Her new role at Berkeley will begin September 1.