By Cliff Foster
The Social Work Department is growing and new goals are emerging as part of the department’s strategic planning process.
The department just hosted a successful site visit by a representative of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), another step in the effort to win accreditation for the graduate program. The CSWE is on track to complete its review by February 2014—a year sooner than initially expected. The bachelor’s program has been accredited by CSWE since 1997.
The MSW program, which launched last fall, had 110 students during its first academic year. This year there are about 150 students and 250 are expected next year, based on students who have received advising and already submitted applications.
The growth is not unexpected. “I think there was such a need in the community for an affordable MSW program that we really anticipated students to be knocking our doors down,” says Amy Middleton, MSW/BSW programs specialist and academic coordinator.
To accommodate its growth, the department has moved into larger office space in Central Classroom 201, not far from its former, cramped quarters down the hall. An open house Nov. 28 from 1-4 p.m. in Central 201 is an opportunity for the University community to meet the faculty and staff, learn about the department and inspect its new home. The department is also holding information sessions for graduate students on Nov. 27 and for undergraduates in December.
The department’s leadership changed in August when Christian Itin took over from interim chair Arthur Campa, associate dean of the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Itin received his bachelor’s degree in social work from Cornell University and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Denver. He has held teaching and administrative positions at Humboldt State University, the State University of New York College at Brockport and elsewhere. He is also a recognized expert in adventure and wilderness therapy.
Since his arrival, Itin says he’s been assessing “the strengths and opportunities that exist and how to help continue to move our department forward” and is leading the department’s strategic planning initiative.
To keep up with growth of the department, the University has hired a new faculty member who will start next semester. Joanne Bailey, currently an associate professor at the University of Houston downtown campus, will teach mostly graduate-level courses. Itin says the department also plans to search for a senior-level professor whose principal assignment will be in the master’s program.
“One of the ways you build a vibrant department,” he says, “is to bring in new ideas and new thoughts from outside.”
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