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Catherine Tompkins, MSW, PhD

Department of Social Work

Cathy Tompkins

Dr. Tompkins, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies, teaches research and human behavior sequences and specializes in curriculum development, administration, and gerontological social work research. She is developing a distance education course on inter generational care giving. Dr. Tompkins has been pursuing two research tracks since arriving at Mason: 1) The need for supportive services for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers and 2) an exploration of the potential care giving relationship that exists between grandparents and grandchildren residing within grandparent-headed households. In 2006, Dr. Tompkins was a co-investigator on a $30,000 research award from the Virginia Center on Aging to study: Ethics of Respect for Spirituality in Persons Living with Alzheimer's Disease. Dr. Tompkins was also the 2007 award recipient of GMU's College of Health and Human Services, Habit of Excellence Award and the 2006 award recipient of the Mit Joyner Gerontological Leadership award. Dr. Tompkins was inducted as a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America in 2015.

Prior to joining Mason, Dr. Tompkins served as Director of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) and as the Program Coordinator for the John A. Hartford funded project, Strengthening Aging and Gerontological Education in Social Work (SAGE-SW). She has had several opportunities to work with gerontological social work educators and researchers across the country. Publications resulting from this work include: An edited monograph, Fostering Social Work Gerontology Competence, (Tompkins, C.J. & Rosen, A.,2007); Teaching Aging: Syllabi, Resources & Infusion Materials for the Social Work Curriculum, (Kropf, N.P. & Tompkins, C.J., 2002); An Analysis of Social Work Textbooks for Aging Content: How Well do Social Work Foundation Texts Prepare Students for our Aging Society? (Tompkins,C.J., Rosen, A.L., & Larkin, H., 2006); Developing Visibility for Aging in Social Work (Tompkins, C.J. & Rosen, A.L. 2006); Increasing Aging and Advocacy Competency: The Inter generational Advocacy Pilot Project (Hermoso, J., Rosen, A.L., Overly, L. & Tompkins, C.J. 2006) and Innovations in Gerontological Social Work Education: Transforming Social Work Education, Guest Editorial (Hooyman, N.R. & Tompkins C.J., 2005). 

As a result of her administrative work, Dr. Tompkins has also been involved in disseminating evidence relative to the importance of technology within social work education. Publications resulting from this work include: Using Image Manipulation Skills to Teach Community Problem-Solving (Davis, M.E.,Tompkins, C.J., Wolf-Branigin, M., 2006); Collaborating,Teaching and Learning in Cyberspace: A Virtual Age Experience (Tompkins, C.J. & Weinreich,D., 2007) and Learning Objects and Gerontology, (Weinreich, D.M., Tompkins,C.J., 2006). 

This past year, Dr. Tompkins conducted a classical Glaserian Grounded Theory study developing theoretical models to explain the care giving relationship between grandparents and grandchildren residing within grandparent-headed households for her Hartford Faculty Scholars Program research project.


  • PhD, Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore, 1995
  • MSW, Social Work/Specialization in Aging, University of Maryland, Baltimore, 1991
  • BA, Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, 1987