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Dr. Portia L. Cole

Social Work Program Director


Courses Taught

Introduction to Social Work
Social Policy
Social Work Research Methods I/II
Human Behavior in the Social Environment I/II
Social Work Ethics
Introduction to Trauma-Informed Social Work


  • Ph.D., Sociology , The American University
  • MSW, Social Work, The Catholic University of America
  • B.A., Sociology, The George Washington University


  • Social Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and related outcomes such as Intimate Partner Violence, Opioid Abuse, Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
  • Intersection of Health and Education Equity Research
  • Work-Life Interventions
  • Medicaid Transformation and Value-Based Health Care Outcomes
  • Qualitative Research Methods (Focus Groups)


  • Editorial Board Member, Health & Social Work journal published by National Association of Social Workers (2022-2025)
  • H. Jack Geiger Congressional Health Policy Fellowship, 2009
  • W.K. Kellogg Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Health Disparities , 2006
  • American Sociological Association Pre-Doctoral Fellowship , 1997

Select Works Published

  • Traumatic brain injury and the Americans with Disabilities Act: Implications for the Social Work Profession.
    Cole, P.L. & Margolin-Cecka, D., In T.B. Bent-Goodley, J.H. Williams et. al. (Eds.), Grand challenges for society: Evidence-based social work practice (pp. 89-97). Washington, DC: NASW Press, 2019
  • Reclaiming and Reimagining Macro Social Work Education: A Collective Biography.
    Netting, F.E., O'Connor, M.K., Cole, P.L., et al., Journal of Social Work Education, 52(2), 157-169, 2016
  • Voice and Community in the Corporate Academy: A Collective Biography
    O'Connor, M.K., Netting, F.E., Cole, P.L. et al., Affilia, 30(1), 9-25, 2015
  • Traumatic Brain Injury and the Americans with Disabilities Act: Implications for the Social Work Profession.
    Cole, P.L., & Margolin-Cecka, D., Social Work, 59(3), 261-269, 2014
  • Persons Affected by Traumatic Brain Injury in the Workplace: Implication for Employee Assistance Programs.
    Cole, P.L., Margolin-Cecka, D., & Smith, F.M., Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 27(4), 227-249, 2012
  • Tailoring Work-Life Interventions for Culturally Diverse Caregivers of Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury.
    Cole, P.L. & Williams-Gary, K., Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 31(2), 130-154, 2012
  • You Want Me to Do What? Ethical Practice Within Interdisciplinary Collaborations.
    Cole, P.L., Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 9(1), 26-39, 2012
  • The Role of Perceptions in Collaborative Relationships: Implications for Forensic Social Work Practice
    Cole, P.L., Journal of Forensic Social Work, 2(1), 3-24, 2012
  • Factors Associated with Work-Family Conflict Stress among African American Women
    Cole, P.L. & Secret, M., Social Work in Public Health, 27(4), 307-329, 2012


My teaching philosophy is influenced by a learner-centered teaching model. This model encourages me to think about how to organize content, connect Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) learning competencies to assignments while also building on the students’ existing knowledge base. This model is also appealing to me because it helps to establish a “sense of mutuality” during the teaching process. I emphasize to students that they may take responsibility for their learning and not to be “passive listeners.” In addition to encouraging students to think critically about material presented, I also tailor the design of course assignments to address diverse learning styles. Individual and/or small group work in conjunction with oral presentation options assist in shedding light on individual strengths. During my academic career, I have participated in interdisciplinary collaborative efforts to support closure of equity gaps in educational outcomes and implementation of student success initiatives with a focus on students from racial and economically diverse backgrounds. I continue to seek opportunities to craft solutions that lead to successful post-graduate outcomes.