Dr. Geoffrey Greif: Best Selling Author & Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work

My NativeAdVantage:


Dr. Geoffrey Greif is Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work where he has worked since 1984.  He was Associate Dean from 1996 to 2007.  He received his MSW from the University of Pennsylvania and his PhD from the Columbia University School of Social Work. He is the author of more than 130 journal articles and book chapters and fourteen books including four that are co-edited.  These include: When Parents Kidnap (co-authored with Dr. Rebecca Hegar); Single Fathers; Beating the Odds: Raising academically successful African American males (written with Drs. Freeman Hrabowski and Ken Maton); Overcoming the Odds: Raising academically successful African American young women (written with Hrabowski, Maton, and Monica Greene); and Group work with populations at risk (co-edited with Dr. Carolyn Knight).

Within the past few years, Dr. Greif has explored horizontal relationships with the publications of Buddy System: Understanding male friendships and Two Plus Two: Couples and their couple friendships (with Dr. Katherine Holtz Deal). A new book (co-authored with Dr. Michael Woolley), Adult Sibling Relationships, came out in 2016. In 2001, he chaired Governor Parris Glendening’s Commission to study sexual orientation discrimination in Maryland. Between 2011 and 2016, Dr. Greif co-led a fathering group for federal detainees at the Chesapeake Detention Center in Baltimore.  He currently co-leads a fathering group at Christopher's Place, a residential center for formerly homeless men.

What do I do best?

I try to be the most modest and understated person I can be and let what little I produce speak for itself.

What makes me the best version of myself?

When I can look myself in the mirror and feel okay with how I have acted, I become the best version of myself.  Sometimes that is an “aspirational” best version of myself because I know what I should but maybe am incapable of doing it.

What are my aspirations?

My last ten years have been spent struggling to understand and give people a language to integrate the horizontal and vertical axes of human relationships in order to describe the roles that siblings, other family members, and friends can play in our lives.  I say struggling because, while I believe much can be done to integrate our understanding of these relationships into our lives, I just have not found that connection yet. And maybe, it is, as philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language are the limits on my world,” and I will never figure out a more complete integration of the two.  Yet, the quest continues and I am annoyingly optimistic by nature.

My Biggest Success?

Starting with nothing on the page, doing research, and writing something that speaks to others.

My Most Challenging Moment?

At some point along the way, I have continuously come close to failing at almost every academic endeavor I have pursued: being tutored in high school chemistry and yet still getting all the proofs wrong; needing remedial writing help in high school and college; being told I was on the cusp of being removed from one graduate school because I had not progressed professionally enough; having to re-analyze data from my dissertation …yet hitting my stride academically in my mid-30s.   Those experiences gave me compassion for others who are traveling a rocky academic trail.

My Motto?

Err on the side of love.  Life is full of cusps when dealing with others.  If you are in power and you can act punitively or compassionately and you are not sure which way is best, err on the side of compassion.  If you are unsure what is being said to you, choose to interpret it in the best light and not the worst.

My Favorite People/Role Models?

Freeman Hrabowski, Jesse Harris, Carol Meyer – all influenced me professionally…they are/were: President of UMBC; dean of the UM School of Social Work; chair of my dissertation and the one who led me into academia…

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

London – I understand the language (most of the time) and my parents, now deceased, enjoyed it so I feel I commune with them when I am there

9. My Favorite Products/Objects?

Guitars – I have been collecting and playing since 1965.

My Current Passions?

New research I am engaged in (with Michael Woolley) on in-laws.  We have some great data and are learning a fabulous amount of new things about vertical and horizontal relationships.  I still like watching youtube video of the reunion of my college band, the Kansas City Jammers!