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August 8, 2006

Divorce and Child Custody Expert Named to Smith College School for Social Work Faculty

Editor's note: For a photo of Pruett, contact Marti Hobbes at

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—The Smith College School for Social Work appointed clinical psychologist Marsha Kline Pruett, an expert on preventive interventions for families experiencing divorce and child custody issues, to a new endowed professorship.

Pruett will become Maconda Brown O'Connor Professor, a joint appointment between the School for Social Work and Smith College, on Sept. 1. The appointment will allow Pruett to teach at both the undergraduate college and graduate school.

“We are thrilled to welcome Marsha to Smith,” said Carolyn Jacobs, dean of the School for Social Work. “She brings an ability to create interventions that move from clinical practice to research to policy change. And, her wealth of experience and innovative responses to societal issues support the mission of the Smith College School for Social Work.”

Nationally known for her research on joint custody and children’s adjustment to divorce, Pruett co-authored, with attorney Diana Mercer, “Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce.” She is currently working on a new parenting book.

Before joining the Smith faculty, Pruett served on the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine, Division of Law and Psychiatry, with a joint appointment at the Yale Child Study Center.

Pruett has received government and foundation grants totaling about $4.5 million for research projects on which she has collaborated or she has led, and her findings have appeared in numerous scientific journals.

One of her investigations, the Collaborative Divorce Project, offered Connecticut families with young children a model approach to working with lawyers, judges, family services and mental health professionals to obtain timely and cost-effective divorces that maximized contact with both parents.

After earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania, Pruett received her clinical psychology degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She later earned a law degree from Yale.

Maconda Brown O'Connor, for whom the faculty position is named, received a master's degree in social work from Smith in 1985 and a doctorate in 1998, establishing the professorship the following year. She is currently chairperson of the Brown Foundation, Inc.

Founded in 1918, the Smith College School for Social Work enrolls 325 women and men pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in social work with a concentration in clinical practice. One of the oldest and most distinguished schools for clinical social work in the United States, the school has led the field in developing innovative educational and fieldwork responses to trauma, war, dislocation, poverty, abuse and violence.

Smith College enrolls about 2,600 students from every state and 60 other countries and is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the country.


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