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Social work school lauded during reaccreditation

by Richard Veilleux - May 30, 2006

The School of Social Work has been reaccredited for another eight-year period by a national council that found much to praise and virtually nothing to criticize.

The report, compiled by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council of Social Work Education, was received by Univerrsity and School administrators earlier this month.

It follows an accreditation team site visit last October, during which interviews were conducted with University officials, faculty, alumni, students, employers, and area agencies.

Prior to the site team visit, faculty and staff at the School had conducted an exhaustive two-year self-study.

“We’re extremely happy to be reaffirmed,” said Catherine Havens, associate dean of the School.

“This opens an eight-year window when we will be able to focus on our own goals and objectives.”

The reaccreditation – for a full eight-year cycle – made no recommendations regarding areas that should be strengthened, but did cite a number of areas of excellence, including:

  • diversity;
  • programming, especially studies regarding populations at risk and social economic justice;
  • field education;
  • community relationships;
  • alumni relationships;
  • student participation;
  • leadership;
  • and a strong faculty, which features many nationally recognized leaders in the field.

Dean Kay Davidson, who was cited for her strong leadership, has announced that she will step down following the 2006-07 academic year, after a 10-year term.

A national search will be launched to find a successor.

“The reaccreditation was a very important goal, for Kay to leave with this endorsement behind her,” said Havens.

The School, established more than 50 years ago, currently enrolls about 400 students annually in its master’s degree program, and has been steadily building a doctoral program for the past four years.

Another 200 students are enrolled in STEP, the School’s non-degree, continuing education program. More than 30 percent of the faculty and students are from underrepresented populations.

Havens said the School has just completed implementation of a five-year strategic plan, and faculty expect to create another short-term strategic plan in the near future.

Once a new dean is on board, she said, a new, longer-term plan will be developed.

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