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Department of Social Work

College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences

ETSU Social Work Department Feature: Dr. Elizabeth Randall

Elizabeth Randall


     The ETSU Social Work Department is proud to announce that long-time former faculty member, Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Randall has recently been awarded the NASW Tennessee Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Randall has an astounding list of lifetime achievements within the social work and academic realms.

Dr. Randall considers herself lucky enough to have received some highly competent and effective help from a therapist, after having been faced with a life crisis over 30 years ago. Her personal experience with therapy allowed her to realize her passion for both education and psychotherapy. Since that time, she has worked tirelessly to improve both client and student outcomes, with a constant focus on exemplifying social work values.

After earning her MSW in 1986 from the University of Georgia, Randall took a job as in in-patient psychiatric social worker where she began her clinical practice. In 1991, Randall returned to school to pursue her PhD. She began teaching at West Virginia University in 1994, while simultaneously continuing clinical practice. Around that time, West Virginia law passed a social work license law requiring a graduate level class in psychopathology for all LCSW’s. Hundreds of practitioners were at risk of being unable to meet this new requirement for licensure, as the class had never been available, up until the time when the law was passed. But Randall stepped up to the challenge, advocating for clinicians in a way that would allow them to gain credit for the class in the form of a post-graduate continuing education experience. Several times she taught as many as 275 practitioners concurrently across 33 settings through a satellite distance education network, so that clinicians would not be burdened with the time constraints and expenses that would otherwise have been required for them to fulfill this clinical licensure requirement. She accomplished this while simultaneously fulfilling an already full and demanding workload of academic teaching, research, and service.

Dr. Randall is considered somewhat of a legend among fellow social workers due to her work in West Virginia. She also served as NASW President of the West Virginia Chapter from 2006-2008, and still holds a record for the most Continuing Education credit hours delivered to licensure candidates and licensees in West Virginia. During those years, she also served as a clinical consultant to the Veterans’ Administration, where she provided clinical supervision and professional guidance on program development for VA- affiliated community treatment centers.

In addition, she has served as MSW Program Director at ETSU and has held the responsibility of authoring the MSW Program Re-Accreditation Self- Study for both ETSU and WVU. From West Virginia to Tennessee, Randall has taught and advised thousands of students over the last couple of decades.

Even though Dr. Randall retired from her professorship last year, she continues to be a prominent figure and mentor within professional education. She currently is supervising over twelve licensure seeking professionals and has also been appointed by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to serve as a member of the Tennessee Board of Social Work Licensure.

When asked to reflect on what she is most proud of over the course of her professional and personal journey, she humbly shares that she is most proud of a drawer of letters that she keeps from colleagues, students, and former clients who have written to her over the years. She states, “to know that I played such a positive part in the lives of so many developing professionals means a great deal to me.” Just as she believes that luck got her into therapy, she describes winning the NASW- TN Lifetime Achievement Award as mostly due to luck too. This response speaks to Dr. Randall’s modest and humble character. However, she does admit that there was a lot of passion and hard work involved too.

When asked what she believes is the most important quality of a social worker, without pause she states that “the client always comes first.” It is evident through her longtime career of service to both students and clients that all her efforts have been for the sake of improving client care. She holds herself and her students to the highest standards in all regards, and encourages students and professionals never to stop learning.

The ETSU Department of Social Work faculty and students congratulates Dr. Randall for being awarded such a high achievement. Thank you for all the hard work you have done and continue to do. We are proud to call you one of our own.


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