Sara Sanders, PhD, MSW

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS)

Sara Sanders serves as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), providing educational leadership for the college's teaching and research missions, promoting the academic quality and welfare of the college's faculty and students, and directing strategic-planning processes and allocation of collegiate resources. The dean works closely with the associate deans and the elected Executive Committee on all strategic initiatives and issues for the college.

A professor in the School of Social Work, Dean Sanders earned her PhD from the University of Maryland in 2002 and joined the University of Iowa faculty in January 2003. Sanders was awarded the Distinguished Professor Award in the School of Social Work four times and was awarded the President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence in 2015.  She was named a Dean’s Scholar in 2011, a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in 2013, and an Emerging Leader in Professional Practice by the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network in 2013. Sanders served as the Undergraduate Program Director in the School of Social Work from 2011-2015 and as the school's director from 2015-2019. Sanders was also an Administrative Fellow in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2018-2019.

Sanders has published multiple articles in the area of gerontology and death and dying. She presents nationally on topics associated with grief and loss; professional boundaries and ethics; and caregiving for older adults. Her current work involves end-of-life care in prisons. She recently co-authored a book on grief and loss that was published in 2021, and is a co-author of an edited book titled Gerontological Social Work and the Grand Challenges: Focusing on Policy and Practice (2019).

Dean Sara Sanders, exterior on the Pentacrest
PhD, Social Work, University of Maryland