Dr. Evelyn Mills Duvall

40th Anniversary in Focus: Dr. Duvall’s legacy still felt at USFSM

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: April 07, 2016

Editor’s note: The story here is part of a series of 40 stories commemorating USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 40th anniversary this academic year. For more about USFSM’s history, please visit usfsm.edu/anniversary.

In 1992, Dr. Evelyn Mills Duvall wrote, “It is recognized that societal ills — divorce, child and spouse abuse, drug and alcohol problems, mental disorders — are in great part the product of family dissolution.”

Those issues, which are also triggers for family distress, are at the forefront of research and development conducted at USF Sarasota-Manatee under the College of Arts & Sciences’ Duvall Family Studies Initiative.

Before she passed away in 1998, Dr. Duvall, a former USF faculty member and benefactor, was an author renowned for her research involving marriage, parenting and family life.

She established a Chair position in Family Development at USFSM to conduct research and offer seminars and courses in the field of family development to professionals in the social services, health care and educational fields.

In keeping with that tradition, USFSM hosts a conference every two years to spotlight different family challenges. These conferences bring the brightest and the best minds to the Sarasota and Manatee areas as well as to USFSM for a thoughtful discussion and sharing of research.

It is through these conferences and the continuous work of the Duvall Family Studies Initiative that Dr. Duvall’s legacy lives on. By continuing the initiative, USFSM both honors Dr. Duvall’s vision and helps the community to meet the challenges of strengthening family life.

“The Duvall Initiative contributes significantly to the prevention of the kinds of social problems that continue to dramatically impact families and society as a whole,” Dr. Jane Roberts, Duvall Chair since 2009, said. “We do this by bringing the most recent research findings to our local practitioners who work daily with families in distress.”

USFSM still recognizes the need to strengthen families, and those who work with them, to support and nurture effective family structures, but also to continue Dr. Duvall’s mission by responding to those social workers and others who require research to help them in their work.

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