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

March 2015 Connect

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Spring is in the air.  Happy Social Work month!!! CSWE has declared the theme of this year’s celebration as “Social Work Paves the Way for Change.”  The March edition of the Dean’s blog covers just a small sample of all that is in play in our vibrant community of scholars, researchers, and students as we demonstrate our lived commitment to this ideal.

This past month, we published our first “Dean’s Roundtable Brief” featuring the Interpersonal Violence Practice Community, including a number of our alums as community leaders.    My intention for these periodic gatherings was to periodically invite leaders and faculty active in certain areas of practice relevant to the school to come together in dialogue about the state of a given field of practice, conversation about our ways of working together (both field and coursework), and suggestions for future directions of our shared goals around producing both knowledge and a workforce.


Dean Nissen, with leaders in the IPV community, at the first Dean’s Roundtable

Our first event was held this past fall, and we were so pleased to produce the following brief to share with our students, faculty and the community at large – all in the service of building capacity and strengthening relationships.   Many thanks again to all who made the event such a success – especially Dr. Stephanie Wahab, who served as the Faculty Co-Sponsor, and to Katie Cagle who provided significant leadership and support as well.   Our next Dean’s Roundtable event will be later in the spring and will focus on Integrated Behavioral Health Practice.

 Good News!

Good to see our faculty representing the school and advancing important knowledge in key areas of social work research and social change.

Faculty Publications


  • Orellana, E.R., Goldbach, J., Rountree, M., & Bagwell, B. (2015).  Access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services by People Living with HIV/AIDS: The Case Manager Perspective.  Health & Social Work (published early online).

Other Publications

  • Chorpenning, M., Curry-Stevens, A., Schrock, G., and Lamb, N. (2015). Economic Equity in Communities of Color: The Effectiveness of Minority Contracting Initiatives. Portland, OR: Center to Advance Racial Equity, Portland State University.
  • Ben Anderson-Nathe had a recent post published on BitchMedia called “We are not ‘just like everyone else,'” which is based on an article of the same title that will be published in a forthcoming book.

Faculty Presentations

  • Curry-Stevens, A. (January 24, 2015). Using data to transform policy and catalyze policy advocacy. Leadership training for African Leadership Development Program. Portland, OR.

Other Good News!

brian computer lab 2Brian Everall, our intrepid Systems Analyst (and resident computer expert) managed to significantly accelerate our modest budgeted “few upgrade computers a year” plan by scoring ALL “new to us” upgrades from the Portland State computer trust.   While not brand new machines, they are a substantial update and should serve our students very well for the next few years.   Please join me in giving Brian a heartfelt thank you!!!



Strategic Planning for the SSW

Following up on our successful retreat, a group of SSW representatives met on February 27 to advance planning on strategic action items for our school over the next 3 years.   Learn more about our work and next steps by checking out this link.   You can see who is serving on this ad hoc effort here. If you’d like the chance to comment on our work on specific identified priorities – offer your ideas on this brief survey.   It would be most helpful to have this input before April 8, but we’ll accept input any time.

Social Work Day of Action in Salem

11064796_10152997154960141_4002675314114961782_nMarch 10, 2015 marked the Social Work Day of Action in Salem sponsored by NASW-Oregon.  It was a busy and interesting day of learning, interacting and advocating for numerous important policies impacting social work practice.   Primarily focusing on HB’s 2002 (On ending racial profiling in Oregon), on 2009 (Increasing the state’s minimum wage), on 2307 (Ending conversion therapy for GLBTQ youth in Oregon), and 3059 (Increasing rights and improving working conditions of live entertainers in Oregon).

984022_10152996815580141_2646491441195806724_nOver 100 social workers were in attendance – with over half of the group representing PSU’s BSW, and MSW programs (both distance and Portland sites).  We were addressed by Senate President Peter Courtney, by Labor Comissioner Brad Avakian, by Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, and by Rep. Joe Gallegos (also a PSU SSW Alum!).  Then we met with individual legislators to discuss current policies being advanced through the legislative process.  Kudos to everyone involved – an enjoyable and impactful day to engage with policymaking and issues that matter.  Special thanks to Salem Distance Coordinator, Michelle Martinez-Thompson for her leadership and energy in making the day such a success.   Here’s a quick photo album from our busy day with just a few snapshots of our experiences.  For those that might be planning to testify on any items – here’s a great refresher about “how to’s” in the process!




 General Items of Interest to Social Work and Human Service Practice

As been our practice on this blog, here are some links that we round up that inspire, challenge and inform social work education and practice. Enjoy!

Portland & Oregon

Higher Education

  • Provocative article about the limits of academic discourse as it interacts with social justice/social change.  Thought provoking!

Technology in Social Work and Social Work Education

Author: sswdeanconnect

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

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