Susan Parish

Rutgers alumna Dr. Susan Parish, President of Mercy University, will deliver the Rutgers School of Social Work convocation address on May 13, 2024. Dr. Parish earned her baccalaureate degree from Rutgers University in 1988 and her MSW from Rutgers School of Social Work in 1994. 

After a number of years as a social work practitioner, Dr. Parish earned her Ph.D. from the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She has had an outstanding career in higher education and in August of 2023 she began serving as President of Mercy University in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Prior to that, Dr. Parish served in several higher education leadership positions.

She began her career in social work education as a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work. Subsequently, she was Director of the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy and doctoral program chair at Brandeis University. She then served as Dean of the College of Health Professions at Northeastern University in Boston, followed by serving as Dean of the College of Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. Under Dr. Parish’s leadership, the College of Health Professions at VCU experienced significant increases in graduate and undergraduate enrollment, and research funding. Under her leadership, the College also launched an innovative liberal arts undergraduate degree in Health Services in 2020 and developed new certificate programs and graduate concentrations. 

Dr. Parish also has a proven track-record in fundraising. At Northeastern and VCU, she partnered with a range of individual donors and foundations to create new scholarship funds, a student emergency fund, and support for faculty, health innovation, and teaching and research labs.

Over the course of her career, Dr. Parish has been a prolific researcher primarily in the area of health disparities for people with disabilities and has garnered more than $13 million in external research funding. She has received distinctions for her teaching, mentoring and research, including: “Research Matters!” Distinguished Research Award, Arc of the United States (2009), Advocate Hero, Exceptional Parent Magazine (2021), Lifetime Achievement Award, American Public Health Association Disability Section (2021) and Research Award, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2019).