The School of Social Work welcomed in another academic year with both enthusiasm and trepidation. While the enthusiasm for the next generation of our colleagues in the profession of social work is palpable, the field of social work is experiencing anxiety due to the state’s budget uncertainty. Although we have prepared for budget impacts, there is still much to celebrate in the good work from the School of Social Work.
Recruitment and retention for the school has been positive for the past two years. The 2014 admission cohort was a 24 percent increase over 2013, and the 2015 cohort was even larger, a 45 percent increase from 2013. What is even more impressive is the quality of our students. We are all proud of their commitment and passion for serving the most vulnerable in our communities.
Serving our students is our most important mission, and several initiatives in the school have enhanced this mission. We completed significant curricular changes in our M.S.W. foundation plan and feel strongly that these changes will prepare our graduate students in ways to meet the challenges of society. In the B.S.W. program we continue to refine the two child welfare courses that prepare our students for child welfare licensure and employment.
Part of our mission is to provide continuing education to social work professionals. We had an outstanding one-day conference this fall with former adjunct Brad Singer, of Fort Stewart, providing expertise on working with military individuals and their families. We are planning the 2016 Social Work Day conference thanks to the generosity of the Haney family. We have several exciting speakers on the topic of the juvenile justice system and look forward to hosting the event in the spring.
We are in the process of developing the next strategic plan for the school as well as revising our program evaluation plan. Despite questions and concerns regarding state funding, our work moves forward. Any trepidation is far outweighed with enthusiasm for the rewarding work we have ahead to prepare the next generation in the profession. We can all take a lesson from our students who chose a quote from Gandhi (“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.”) as their inspiration on the Social Work Club T-shirt design this year. I am confident that our profession of social work will be in very good hands.