Matthew CuellarPh.D., MSW

Matthew Cuellar
Associate Professor, BSW Program Chair, SSWEND Scholar Mentor
School of Social Work
PSB 223A
Tuesdays, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM


  • PhD, 2016 — University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • MSW, 2013 — University of Alabama
  • BSW, 2011 — University of Alabama


Dr. Matthew J. Cuellar is a tenured Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. He earned his Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a minor in Applied Statistics from the Haslam School of Business. He earned his Master of Social Work from the University of Alabama. Cuellar has served as PI, co-PI, research scientist, and program evaluator on externally funded research projects sponsored by local, state, and federal agencies totaling more than $3.4M. Cuellar's current research focuses on disparate outcomes in school safety and barriers to academic achievement among children and adolescents in public school systems. Cuellar has extensive experience working with students in higher education, with particular expertise mentoring students at the doctoral and master levels in social work, criminal justice, and psychology. Cuellar currently teaches Introduction to Social Work and Program Evaluation in the School of Social Work.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Program Evaluation

Professional & Department Service

  • BSW Program Chair
  • Program Director, Project SSWEND
  • Primary Advisor for the School Social Work Track

Research Interests

  • School safety
  • School climate
  • School Social Work
  • Research methods
  • Quantitative methods in applied research
  • Community-based participatory research


  • Cuellar, M., Coyle, S., & Weinreb, K.* (2021). Dealing with the day-to-day: harnessing school climate to address the effects of student victimization on academic performance. Psychology in the Schools, 1-17.
  • Gawley, M.*, Cuellar, M. J., & Coyle, S. (2021). A Theoretical and Empirical Assessment of Authoritarianism’s Effects on Behavior, Attendance, and Performance in Urban School Systems. Contemporary Justice Review, 24(2), 197 – 217. DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2021.1881894
  • Coyle, S., Weinreb, K.*, Davila, G.*, & Cuellar, M. (2021). Relationships matter: The protective role of teacher and peer support in understanding school climate for victimized youth. Child and Youth Care Forum, 1-23.
  • Cuellar, M. J. & Coyle, S. (2020). Assessing Disparities in School Safety: Implications for Promoting Equality in Current Efforts to Keep Kids Safe. Security Journal, 1-27.                    
  • Perry, Y.* & Cuellar, M. J. (2021). Coping Methods used by college undergraduate and graduate students while experiencing childhood adversities and traumas. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma.
  • Perry, Y.*, Elswick, S., & Cuellar, M. J. (2021). Leadership in School Social Work: Implications for Promoting the Preparedness of Tomorrow’s Practitioners. International Journal of School Social Work (2021)
  • Elswick, S. & Cuellar, M. J. (2021). School Social Workers Perceptions of the Use of Functional Behavior Assessments. Social Work Practice, 31(5), 503 – 512.
  • Cuellar, N. & Cuellar, M. J., et al. (2021). Social determinants of health and COVID-19 behaviors and beliefs toward immunizations among Latinxs. Hispanic Health Care International. PMID: 34382436; DOI: 10.1177/15404153211020425
  • Cuellar, M. J. & Coyle, S. (2020). Assessing inequalities in school safety: Roles and recommendations for mental health care practitioners. Security Journal. DOI: 10.1057/s41284-020-00254-2.
  • Alvarez, M., Beck, N., Cuellar, M. J., Lucio, R., McCoy, C., Ochocki, S., Robles Sinkule, M., Rivers Cannon, T., Villarreal Sosa, L., (2020). School Social Work Association of America Responds to the Role of Law Enforcement in Schools from a Racial Justice Lens. London, KY. School Social Work Association of America.
  • Lee, S.* & Cuellar, M. J. (2019). Data-Driven recommendations for school social workers working with school security personnel. International Journal of School Social Work, 4(1), 1-17.
  • Elswick, S. E., Cuellar, M. J., & Mason, S. E. (2018). Leadership and school social work in the United States: A qualitative assessment. School Mental Health. DOI: 10.1007/s12310-018-9298-8.
  • Cuellar, M. J. & Mason, S. E. (2018). School social worker views on the current state of safety in the United States: A qualitative study. Children & Schools, 41(1), 25-34. DOI: 10.1093/cs/cdy028\
  • Elswick, S., Cuellar, M., Williams, M.*, Albert, W.*, & Norfleet, T.* (2018). School social work leadership: Essential knowledge, skills, and practices for the profession. School Social Work Journal, 42(2), 58-78.
  • Cuellar, M. J., Elswick, S. E. & Theriot, M. T. (2017). School social workers’ perceptions of school safety and security in today’s schools: A survey of professionals across the United States. Journal of School Violence (Published; Online First). DOI: 10.1080/15388220.2017.1315308
  • Cuellar, M. J., Elswick, S. E. & Theriot, M. T. (2017). An investigation of school social worker perceptions towards school security personnel. School Social Work Journal, 41(2), 41-60.
  • Forrest-Bank, S. & Cuellar, M. J. (2017). Examining Ethnic Identity as a Mediator to the Effects of Racial Microaggression and Psychological Well-Being. Social Work Research, 41(4), 1-20. DOI: 10.1093/swr/svx023.
  • Cuellar, M. J. & Theriot, M.T. (2017). Investigating the effects of commonly implemented school safety strategies on school social work practitioners. Journal for the Society of Social Work and Research, 8(4), 511 – 538. DOI: 2334-2315/2017/0804-000X
  • Cuellar, M. J. & Theriot, M. T. (2016). Exploring the effects of parental and community involvement on the implementation of school safety strategies. Journal of School Public Relations, 36(1), 93-123.
  • Theriot, M. T. & Cuellar, M. J. (2016). School resource officers and students’ rights. Contemporary Justice Review, 19(3), 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2016.1181978.
  • Cuellar, M. J. (2016). School safety strategies and their effects on the occurrence of school-based violence in United States high schools: An exploratory study. Journal of School Violence, 29(2), 1-18. DOI: 10.1080/15388220.2016.1193742.
  • Held, M. L., Cuellar, M. J. & Heffron, L. C. (2016). A study of social workers’ knowledge and perceptions of Latino/a stages of immigration. Journal of Social Work Education. (Published; Online First) DOI: 10.1080/10437797.2017.1307148
  • Held, M. L., & Cuellar, M. J. (2016). Social capital and wellbeing: A structural analysis of Latina mothers by origin. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 20(5), 1-8. DOI 10.1007/s10995-016-2010-4.
  • Cuellar, M. J. & Held, M. L. (2015). Adolescent Latino immigrants: Migration and mental health. Perspectivas Sociales, 17(1), 11-26.