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School of Social Welfare Dean’s Corner: The Road Ahead

Dear Colleagues,

On February 7th and 8th, the Stony Brook School of Social Welfare hosted a site visit from the Council on Social Work Education, our accrediting body.  The reaccreditation process occurs every eight years, requiring the writing of a document which carefully assesses our processes and learning outcomes with students, our mission and goals, curriculum, admissions and student services, faculty, administration and resources, and diversity.   The document is then read by the Commission on Accreditation, who give guidance to the site visitors about the areas that need further exploration.  Following the visit, the site visitors submit their report to the Commission that then votes on reaccreditation.  Reaccreditation is a protracted and arduous process requiring the focus of many of us (thanks to Dr. Morgan, Dr. Velazquez, Professor Fineberg, Ms. Wrase, Dean Coward, Dean Horwitz, Victoria Yngstrom as well as the whole faculty).

This week we received the site visit reports, and I can only call them glowing. We will post the reports and my response on our website for you to see.  Our site visitors, Drs. Schrenzel and Rubinwere impressed by their conversations with students. In reviewing the MSW program, Dr. Schrenzel noted the many ways in which the School reflects the mission of the University and Health Sciences campus and responds to the issues on Long Island.  He writes about the School’s commitment to become more diverse in its student body and on its faculty.  He mentions that the new specializations are designed to strengthen our graduates’ competence in practice.  Similarly, Dr. Rubin’s report on the BSW discussed the positive way the School is viewed by the President and Senior Vice President, and how one of our alum stated, we are “constantly moving to actualize mission.”  She describes the way in which diversity is infused throughout curriculum and in our field placements, and how difficult conversations about race, gender, and sexual orientation are routine in our classrooms.   Perhaps most important, the site visitors found nothing  “out of compliance” with reaccreditation standards.  While we will have to wait for the final approval in June, this is very, very good news.

So as we all exhale that the reaccreditation process is coming to a successful closure, we now must both look back at what we’ve accomplished and ahead to what is left to do.  What do we want for the School and its students?  What do we want to work toward in the next few years?

The new MSW curriculum, with its second year specializations, will be in place next fall.  We think that the specializations will help graduates to be “employment ready” and make them more competitive on the job market.  The BSW program and Doctoral program will undergo similar review and renewals to ensure that our programs are state-of-the-art.  We’ve redesigned the admissions process to include Open Houses and Information Sessions, and to get admissions decisions out more quickly.  Our Manhattan program is in full swing.  We have a newly designed orientation that will help students make a smooth transition into the School and classes. The newly designed Student Lounge should be fully furnished in the next week or so.   We have added Licensing Preparation courses in Manhattan and Long Island.

There is also more to accomplish before we can be satisfied that we are the school of social welfare we want to be.  As a faculty and an administration, we believe that the next few years will be important ones.   We must do more to ensure that every aspect of our School is responsive to diversity and inclusion.  As such, Dr. Hayward and Professor Colson will be leading a Committee on Diversity and Inclusion beginning this spring.  We plan to hire additional faculty members, and are especially interested in attracting experts who have practice and research backgrounds, and who represent diverse populations. We will continue to expand our support for research and grant submissions. Even as we offer more classes in on-line and hybrid formats, we must expand the use of technology in learning and teaching to supplement our “brick and mortar” classes and meetings. Our Department of Field Education is active in identifying new and innovative options for internships and group placements.  Next year, Dean Coward will lead an effort to enhance and expedite our scheduling and registration processes, as well as launch a new advising system so we can ensure that students get all the help they need as quickly as possible.  She also plans to solidify our linkages to campus services, including Alumni and Career Services. We want to offer more out of classroom opportunities in Manhattan, including guest speakers and interaction with alumni. We plan to expand our communications beyond the weekly update to students.  We want to offer more Continuing Education for our graduates, at least some of it on-line.

The one thing I can promise is that we will not rest on our laurels.  And we’d love to have your ideas and voice included in our future.

My very best wishes for a peaceful and restful spring,

Jacqueline Mondros, D.S.W.
Dean and Assistant Vice President of Social Determinants of Health

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