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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Debbie Dempsey Simpler

Debbie SimplerThere is no denying that the Social Work students are Belmont's best and brightest and happiest of all the students on campus. We struggle with tough issues here and prepare you to become a great professional social worker. The faculty is very interested in the students and loves to hear about the student's dreams and aspirations. We also want to share a little about who we are, so here is some information about me.

My social work career began in 1973. Armed with a BSW from the University of Memphis, I hit the housing projects of Memphis working as a school social worker for the Memphis School for Mentally Retarded Children.  With my 1964 Volkswagen bug named Phoebe, I made home visits to the families who had children in our program. That experience taught me a great deal about social and economic justice, especially in the way those with the least in our society are ignored. My clients became my teachers who taught me about strength and hope.

From there it was graduate school and the earning of the MSSW from the University of Tennessee. I then worked as a consultant for a chain of nursing homes in middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky, and as a social work supervisor in community services at Clover Bottom Developmental Center in Nashville. Before coming to Belmont in 1979, I taught as an adjunct social work professor at MTSU.

It is odd that even while working full time as a social worker or a social work educator, the need to volunteer does not go away. I have completed volunteer work with rape survivors, survivors of domestic violence, Room in the Inn with my church, and with income eligible pregnant women and children served by a federally funded health clinic. Currently I spend my summers volunteering at a rural food bank and  with Horizons, a community organizing group.

When not at work, you might find me at an early morning aerobics class, walking with my Saturday morning Woman's Group, cruising the neighborhood on my bike with my husband (our 5 children are grown), or spending time with my six grandchildren; Finn, Ike, Townsend, Marilyn, Jack, and Sam.

You can email me at

Social Work Department  |  Phone: 615-460-6401