From the Director
Dear School of Social Work Alumni and Friends:
The spring semester has come to a close and campus is (relatively) quiet. This academic year was full of changing public health news, requiring us to “pivot” in multiple ways as we worked to meet the educational needs of students while protecting everyone’s health and responding to community and campus mandates. The School of Social Work went through other changes, as well – adjusting to a new director (me), saying goodbye to colleagues and students as they transitioned to the next stage in their careers, welcoming new faces, and striving to promote equity and social justice in all we do.
To that end, we engaged in a formal needs assessment process led by Diversity Compass, who brought their consulting expertise to bear on uncovering ways to improve the culture and climate of the school. The level of involvement among students, faculty, and staff was truly inspiring, and I am extremely proud to be part of efforts to cast a critical eye on our environment in service of social work values. Those who are interested in the findings from the needs assessment can find a recording of the May 12 presentation on our website, with a report forthcoming.
This spring’s graduation festivities marked a return to some familiar rituals and celebrations. The school hosted an intimate hooding ceremony with M.S.W. graduates, followed by receptions with graduates, family, and friends from the B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs. It was exciting to hear the graduates’ plans for the future and to think about ways our paths will continue to cross. For all alumni – recent or not-so-recent – I hope you will stay connected with the school so we can honor your successes and accomplishments.
One important transition we marked this semester was the loss of Victor Baez, longtime faculty member at the School of Social Work. Recently, Victor’s family and many colleagues, friends, and former students gathered at the home of Brad and Nadine Sheafor to honor Victor’s memory. His impact on the school and community was enormous, and we will miss him. We are installing a bench in front of the Education Building to memorialize Victor. I look forward to enjoying a beautiful campus view while thinking of Victor, and I hope many of you will have the opportunity to do the same.
No one predicted exactly how this year would unfold, but I am grateful to have been part of this community. I wish each of you a rejuvenating summer, filled with loved ones and good health.
Director and Professor, School of Social Work
Colorado State University
In Memory: Victor Baez
Melissa Pappas (’85), founder and CEO of ATHENA Consulting, provided the keynote presentation for the Leadership in Social Work Speaker Series
Jenna Biedscheid (’21) awarded prestigious Fulbright Award to research workers returning to Nepal after employment with American defense contractors
Heavily involved in social justice groups since she first transferred to CSU, Fizer overcame mental health struggles and challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic to reach graduation.
Dailey overcame challenges and built connections for advocacy in their path to a social work degree as a queer, disabled, nontraditional student parenting two young children.
Social Work Research
Vice President for Research Graduate Fellowship awarded to an unorthodox research team: Meet Tiffany Banks and her dog, Abe
Banks, a doctoral student in the School of Social Work was named a VPR Fellow for her animal-assisted therapy option for children with autism. Watch her Three-Minute Challenge presentation.
Paula Yuma featured on Health and Human Science Matters podcast episode from the College of Health and Human Sciences
Paula Yuma is the director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, Outreach, and Education. She discussed her research on “closing the health gap” through social work and increasing equity and access of resources for all.
Award-winning social work researcher Tiffany Jones is studying community conversations about antiracism
Jones is researching a novel approach to the development of racial consciousness and increasing knowledge about social inequalities in rural Colorado communities, with promising results.
Pershing Sims went to incredible lengths to support his 11 siblings in a time of need. His kindness and generosity have inspired others for generations. Since 2008, the scholarship in his memory has supported 13 social work students.
A rescue cat with a special personality and the love of his new family offers support as a therapy animal for Colorado communities.
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