with Laura Nissen, Dean and Professor, School of Social Work at Portland State University

March Connect

1 Comment

Happy March to all!  Thanks for all the helpful and positive feedback about the blog!  It is great to have a place to exchange some ideas and share some information.

Monthly Survey

Last Month’s Survey Question:

Now that a new dean is in place, what are the ingredients of a healthy, productive and successful transition of the SSW within the next 3-6 months?

I want to express appreciation to all who responded.  Your ideas ground our work moving forward with more important and helpful ideas – here is an executive summary of your responses:

Key ideas (set forth by those who submitted) included a vision of sustainability for the school, greater clarity for the parts of our school community, bridging academic, research and field issues, using data to drive decision making, increasing communication, avoid getting bogged down before moving ahead with some new projects, avoiding getting negatively impacted by upcoming budget processes at PSU, more collaboration with PSU graduate certificate programs, activating leadership and addressing anxiety throughout school community, moving ahead with strategic plan that builds on internal needs assessment that honors all voices and perspectives, meaningful engagement and addressing of social justice and equity issues within the school.

All of these ideas will inform our next steps and priorities – more to come on this in upcoming invitations/opportunities to participate in strategic planning for the school.

For those of you who might want to read everything that was submitted in detail – click here.

This Month’s Survey Question

 This month, guided by my own priority to develop a comprehensive communication strategy for the school, I have a couple of  questions to ask:


(Reminder:  Don’t forget to send Laura and/or Katie your news items for the good news section of this monthly blog post!  We’d love to celebrate your successes!)


  • Doctoral Student Danica Brown just received notification that her entry on Wilma Mankiller has just been published in the NASW Encyclopedia of Social Work.   NASW members can click here to access her entry.
  • Nissen, L.B. (2014).  The power of organizational readiness to boost success with the 2008 EPAS in social work education.  Journal of Social Work Education, 50(1), 5-18.
  • Pugh, G.L. (2014).  Revisiting the pink triangle exercise:  An exploration of experiential learning in graduate social work education.  Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 34(1), 17-28.


SSW Social Service Administration and Leadership Students launched the Portland Chapter of the National Network of Social Work Managers with an event at the Multnomah County Library this past week.   Leadership students include Heather Peasley, Cynthia Traylor, Angela Donley, Caitlin Hostetter, Mackenzie Morris, Samaura Stone, Jessica Wilson, Heidi Davis and Frances Sallah – appearing in this photo with Katharine Cahn and Laura Nissen.
Also, thanks to Julie Kates, Assistant Director of Field, we have made an important stride in building strong infrastructure for field studies.  A brief description is as follows:
In early 2011, the PSU Field Office became aware of changes to OAR 309-032-1500 through 1565, entitled Intensive Treatment Services and Supports, which defined Qualified Mental Health Associates (QMHA) and Professionals (QMHP) in such terms that BSW and MSW interns were precluded from providing mental health services unless under the direct, in- the- room, supervision of an agency based and Licensed QMHP. In response to this change, a large percentage of the statewide community mental health partners with whom we had long-standing relationships as training sites for students in our programs discontinued offering internships in mental health. Field staff, engaged in advocacy efforts with members of the OHA and were assured this was an “unintended consequence” of the revision to the OAR and they would work to remedy this rule.
Fast forward to November 2013, at which point the rule had not yet been amended and students in Social Work programs were still experiencing significant limitations in training opportunities in the field of mental health; there was real concern about the impact this might have on workforce development and training for the next generation of social workers. Julie contacted the Quality Improvement and Certification Manager at the OHA to revisit the status of the proposed “remedy.” The QI Manager informed Julie that the OHA was just then in the process of amending the OARs to allow for interns to perform QMHP level duties and he was planning to contact PSU to seek input on the proposed language.  Julie was able to engage in a thoughtful conversation and provide input regarding language clarification to allow for this significant change. The OHA asked for specific input regarding the language used to define QMHA and QMHP in order to ensure that students in PSU Social Work programs would be eligible to receive the necessary and adequate training in the field. Ms. Kates’ recommendations were incorporated and on January 22, 2014 the OHA presented the proposed changes at a public hearing in Salem. Distance Option Salem Site Coordinator Michele Martinez Thompson attended the hearing on behalf of the PSU SSW. Ms. Martinez-Thompson presented “written testimony” in the form of a letter signed by myself, which fully supported and applauded the proposed change.The changes were accepted!
On February 8th, 2014, the OHA announced the repeal of OAR 309-032-1500 through 1565 and the adoption of OARs 309-019-0100 through 0220  entitled Outpatient Addictions and Mental Health Services; and  022-0100 through 0192, entitled Intensive Treatment Services for Children and Adolescents which formally define QMHA and QMHP in ways that acknowledge and accept students in PSU Social Work programs as being eligible to provide MH services and receive the professional training needing to ensure their competence in the fields of Addictions and Mental Health.   Great teamwork to all involved!

Social Work or CFS-Related (Research or Practice)



Peer-Reviewed Presentations

unnamedThe SSW was well-represented at the PSU Research to Action Symposium:  The Social Determinants of Health on February 28, 2014. Pictured at left are Provost Sona Andrews, and Dr. Christina Nicolaidis at the event.  Here is information about the SDH initiative and the agenda for the day.
  • Ann Curry Stevens/ How disparities research can influence policy
  • Lisa Hawash/Haley Throckmorton/Access to hygiene resources:  The foundation of personal and public health
  • Karen Cellarius/ Oregon Partnership for Health Integration (OPHI): Integrated care and wellness program
  • Christina Nicolaidis/ Partnering with Autistic adults to improve healthcare
  • Laurie Powers, Lee Ann Phillips & Mary Kane/ Youth taking charge of their lives
  • Mary Oschwald, Laurie Powers/ Using Audio Computer Assisted Self Interviews (ACASIs) to collect sensitive data.
  • Roberto Orellana/ Structural and individual factors related to drug use and HIV vulnerability among vulnerable populations in the U.S. and Latin America
  • Jana Meinhold & Ryan Bender/ Community partnership to promote health in Cornelius
  • Alma M.O. Trinidad/ People of Color in the non-profit world: Working conditions and health implications

Higher Education

Pedagogy/Student Learning

PSU Resources

The SSW wishes Aaron Pearlman and Crystal Froembling a fond farewell – each has moved onto new jobs!  This is a shot from the going away party we had for them in February.

unnamed-1Last but not least – here’s a big shout out to our terrific support staff at the Portland campus academic program.   Each of them contributes  so much to keep our programs thriving. (Clockwise, LtoR)Diane Coward, Melissa Penners, Roxanne Dinca, Nick Miller, Thet Mar Win, Pauline Duffy, Jessica Slothower Hayes, Lesly Verduin, Erika Gitchell Woods, and Katie Cagle.

Author: sswdeanconnect

Laura Nissen is Professor and Dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State University.

One thought on “March Connect

  1. Just saw your March post, Laura, thanks to “Mention,” a great free online tracking tool your readers may want to check out. Thank you for including a link to my blog post about how to get and run meetings with White House staffers and other public officials. It’s much appreciated!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s