As I write this note the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences begins its new fiscal year and starts to look forward to the new school year, welcoming a new cohort of students ready to change their lives and change the lives of others. It is also a time to look back at the previous year, a year that was not without its challenges for Case Western Reserve University, but also a year which saw the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences remain strong and stable, and well poised to continue its leadership in innovative social work education into the next century. I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you a few reflections on where we’ve been, and to keep you informed about where we’re going.
THE OUTLOOK FOR THE UNIVERSITY
As you know, in March Edward Hundert announced his resignation as the president of Case Western Reserve. Since that time a plan has been put in place by the university and the individual schools to address the financial challenges ahead. CWRU alumnus and former CWRU Trustee Gregory Eastwood, who served for 13 years as the president of SUNY Upstate Medical University, was named interim president. I have known him for several years and recently had the opportunity to give him a tour of MSASS. He is a very accomplished academic administrator who brings a calm demeanor to the job. As a health professional he understands and is a full supporter of social work education.
THE OUTLOOK AT THE MANDEL SCHOOL
Throughout the University’s recent challenges, MSASS itself was not directly affected by the turmoil. MSASS will finish the fiscal year once again with a surplus. While the negative publicity impacts all of the schools, our students will tell you that their education on campus and in the field was not compromised.
Our faculty has been able to direct its attention primarily to building the best social work education curriculum. For the last three years we have had a strong strategic plan in place that has shaped our budget to reflect the academic priorities of the School. MSASS is the leader in education reform among the top research universities. At the heart of our reform is our Abilities Based Learning Environment (ABLE) which focuses on building an understanding of and strength in a set of core competencies for education of social work practitioners. In addition, this year we will introduce two new courses that will give more in- depth skills training in both direct practice and macro areas for all students. These courses will ensure that all students have a solid foundation in fundamental social work skills that can then be refined in their field placements.
QUALITY FACULTY AT THE HEART OF MSASS
Of course, quality faculty members who are committed to social work education are at the heart of the school. Our faculty continues to excel and further burnish the reputation of MSASS, and new faculty members have arrived, bringing outstanding reputations of their own. Watch for the September issue of MSASS Action for news on their research and recognitions.
In May, MSASS held its commencement ceremony, with 130 students receiving the MSSA degree and four receiving doctorate degrees. Deborah Jacobson was named Outstanding Teacher; Patricia Choby, Outstanding Teacher Award for Mandel School Adjunct Faculty; Rob Fisher, the top teaching award for the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations; Daniella Picriello, the Irene Sogg-Gross Award, given to a social work student chosen by his or her peers, “in recognition of outstanding interest and accomplishments in the areas of humanitarian service”; and Debra Donelan, the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Student Achievement. Joy Willmott, a (SASS '61) graduate of MSASS, was given the Distinguished Alumni Award. Our inspirational commencement speaker, Geraldine Burns (MSASS '71), received the Grace Coyle Award.
MSASS: STRONG, STABLE, MOVING FORWARD
As you can see, MSASS continues to offer an excellent training experience for all students. As the oldest professional graduate program in the nation, we have deep roots in the social work community. Our graduates are in all 50 states and 37 nations. This rich network gives our graduates an edge when they want to move to a new area and are seeking contacts in the community. The network also helps us to locate excellent field placement experiences for our students. This year our students are placed in over 250 different agencies in 13 states. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and others, along with prudent planning, 95 percent of our students receive financial assistance to attend MSASS. We are the only school that guarantees a stipend for field work to every full time student. Since MSASS fully funds the stipend, we can ensure that the placement a student receives matches their interests and educational needs.
When I think about the many MSASS-trained social workers, administrators, researchers, teachers and others who have committed themselves to the greater good, I feel an immense pride to be a part of the Mandel School community, and a great deal of hope for the future of all of our communities.
Let’s keep in touch.
Grover “Cleve” Gilmore
Dean, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences