Diana Richmond Garland, PhD, MSSW, was an educator, visionary, prolific author, and pioneer in the area of the ethical integration of faith and social work. Over her forty- year career she served as a clinical practitioner, a faculty member, and dean at two significant schools of social work: Carver School of Church Social Work and Baylor University School of Social Work. She pioneered new understandings of the ethical integration of faith and social work practice.
As Dr. Garland developed theories and methods for forging ethical connections between social work professionals and congregations or faith based organizations, she not only shared these with students in her social work classes, but she published them as well. Since she had been educated in an era when social work was “allergic” to conversations about religion, Dr. Garland was concerned about providing resources for teachers to help students from faith backgrounds to integrate their faith in ethically appropriate ways.
As policy shifts in the early 2000s called for Charitable Choice and the term “ faith based organizations” came into wide usage, Dr. Garland was already well-equipped to speak into the conversation. Guiding social workers that may be partnering for the first time with religiously-affiliated organizations, Garland’s written works became important resources and she was prolific indeed. In her lifetime she published 21 books and over 100 articles and chapters on subjects of social work education. church social work, congregations, and faith based organizations. Her final publication, Why I am a Social Worker, (2015), explored her lifelong research interest in calling, faith, and social work practice.
In terms of Dr. Garland’s contributions, her legacy is seen in the social work students across the nation who learned from her teaching and her writings. Christians in social work are reminded of the importance of applying ethical principles when their faith motivates their social work practice. For the profession at large, she called attention to religion and faith as a part of the human experience, not to be ignored, but to be integrated ethically.
Dr. Garland’s impact was made within a broad network of social workers that recognized the importance of her pioneering work in faith and social work. The top national organizations for social work practice and education recognized her acheivements. The National Association of Social Workers, awarded Garland a Lifetime achievement award in 2002 and she was elected as a board member of the National Association of Dean’s and Directors of Social Work from 2009-2014. Dr. Garland volunteered tirelessly over several decades with the North American Christians in Social Work (NACSW) , serving on the board for multiple terms and one Presidential term.
Diana Garland’s career in social work began following her graduation from the University of Louisville with a BA in sociology. She had taken a role as a caseworker at the same time her husband, David Garland, was serving as pastor of a small church. Here she first noted the intersection between congregations and social work and returned in 1973 to the University of Louisville to obtain her MSW and PhD. Her area of expertise in family therapy emerged while serving as administrative director of the Shepherdsville Community Mental Health Center and eventually led her into teaching at Carver School of Church Social Work at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where she became the program's second dean in 1993.Carver School was the first CSWE- accredited program in a seminary.
During her years at the Carver School, Diana Garland continued to pursue her vision of fostering a partnership between social work practice and congregational work. In 1995, she authored the first entry on Church Social Work in the NASW Encyclopedia of Social Work. By the mid 1990s, conflict arising from the Southern Baptist Convention’s conservative views on women in ministry eventually led to the dissolution of the Carver School of Church Social Work. During the conflict, Garland lost her position as dean because she defended the importance of social work ethics and education with integrity. These ethical choices earned her NASW’s recognition with the Jack T. Otis Whistleblower Award in 1996.
Continuing her leadership in social work education, Dr. Garland relocated to Baylor Univeristy in Waco, Texas and began a transformational work in developing MSW and PhD programs in addition to the existing BSW program at Baylor. She worked alongside founding chair of the social work program, Dr. Preston Dyer and developed social work from a small department to a thriving School, for which she served as inaugural dean. In 2015, Baylor University honored her 20 years of contribution by naming this thriving school the Garland School of Social Work. Dr. Garland died September 21, 2015 after battling pancreatic cancer. Diana Garland’s legacy continues in the vocational lives of the many social work educators and practitioners across the nation committed to the ethical integration of faith and social work practice.
Diana Richmond was born in Oklahoma City, OK in 1950. Due to her father's employment with IBM the family moved on multiple occasions across the Midwest before arriving back in Oklahoma where Diana graduated from high school. Her family’s background in the Baptist faith and heavy involvement in congregational life grounded Diana’s childhood experience and fueled her interest in helping others.
Diana received a scholarship to attend Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee where she met her future husband, David Garland. The couple moved to Louisville KY and, after completing their PhD degrees, both of the Garlands were hired as faculty at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and began raising their two children, Sarah and John. Following the closure of the Carver School of Church Social Work, the family moved to Waco Texas in 1997 when the Garlands both were hired by Baylor University. In spite of her busy work schedule, Diana made time to contribute to her congregation, Calvary Baptist Church and serve her community through Volunteers of America or Prosper Waco. Diana also enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and being in the outdoors, particularly hiking in Colorado, where the family spent vacations.
Significant Recognition and Awards
- Outstanding Professor, in recognition of distinctive scholarship as a tenured professor, Baylor University, 2010-2011.
- NASW Lifetime Achievement Award, NASW Waco Unit, March 29, 2002.
- Alumni Fellow, University of Louisville, October 2003.
- Book of the Year for Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide, Academy of Parish Clergy, Princeton, NJ, May 2000.
- Pathfinders Award of the YMCA of Central Texas, 1999.
- NASW Jack Otis Whistleblower Award, National Association of Social Workers, 1996.
- John Richard Binford Memorial Award for recognition of excellence in the performance of doctoral work at the University of Louisville, 1979.
- Garland, Diana (2015). Why I am a social worker. North American Christians in Social Work
- Garland, Diana, and Yancey, Gaynor (2014). Congregational social work., Norh American Christians in Social Work.
- Garland, Diana (2012). Family ministry: A comprehensive guide (Revised Edition). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.
- Garland, Diana (2003). Sacred stories of ordinary families. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
- Scales, T. Laine, Wolfer, Terry, Garland, Diana, Sherwood, David, Hugen, Beryl, and Pittman, Sharon (2002). Spirituality and Religion in Social Work Practice: Decision Cases with Teaching Notes. Alexandria VA: Council on Social Work Education.
- Garland Diana (1994). Church agencies: Caring for children and families in crisis. Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare League of America.
- Garland, Diana (Ed.) (1992). Church social work. Philadelphia: North American Association of Christians in Social Work.
Selected Articles and Chapters
- Garland, Diana R. . (2012). A process model of family formation and development. Journal of Family Social Work, 15(3), 235-250.
- Garland, Diana R., Myers, Dennis M., & Wolfer, Terry A. (2009). Protestant Christian volunteers in community social service programs: What motivates, challenges, and sustains them. Administration in Social Work. 33 (1), 1-17.
- Garland, D. R., and J. E. Singletary. (2008). Congregations as settings for early childhood education. Early Childhood Services 2:111-128.
- Garland, D. R., Myers, D. M., & Wolfer, T. A. (2008). Social work with religious volunteers: Activating and sustaining community involvement. Social Work, 53(3), 255-265.
- Garland, Diana R. (2006). When wolves wear shepherds’ clothing: Helping women survive clergy sexual abuse. Social Work and Christianity 33 (1), 1-35.
- Garland, Diana R., O’Connor, Mary Katherine, Wolfer, Terry A., and Netting, Ellen (2006) Team-based research: Notes from the field. Qualitative Social Work: Research and Practice, 5 (1), 93-109.
- Garland, Diana (1999). When professional ethics and religious politics conflict: A case study. Social Work and Christianity, 26 (1), 60-76.
- Garland, Diana (1995, 1997). Church social work. Encyclopedia of Social Work. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Social Workers.
- Garland, Diana (1991). The role of faith in practice with clients. Social Work & Christianity,18(2), 75-89.
- Garland, Diana, & Bailey, P. (1990). Effective work with religious organizations by social workers in other settings. Social Work and Christianity, 17, 7995.
- Garland, Diana (1987). Residential child care workers as primary agents of family intervention. Child Care Quarterly 16, 2134.