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

June 2015 Connect!

Leave a comment

Greetings from the School of Social Work at Portland State University!

As we head into June and our traditional academic year comes to an close, we wanted to share with you just a few of the many things happening in our School of Social Work community.

As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page.  “Like” us today!

Best wishes for a glorious summer ahead!


Laura Nissen
Dean and Professor

Good News!

Celebrating Oregon’s First Fully Online MSW Program Here in the SSW

Congratulations to the School of Social Work’s amazing online Master of Social Work degree team recognized on May 19 at a special Provost’s Challenge Celebration in the Smith Memorial Student Ballroom.

The goal of the project — which began just two years ago — was to take an existing three-year Master of Social Work degree and put it entirely on-line, increasing accessibility for non-traditional students, including students of color, parents, low-income students, students with disabilities, tribal members, and students who live rurally.

The project was funded by a grant provided by the PSU Provost’s Challenge which allocated $3 million in 2013 to fund and support twenty-four innovative faculty-staff activities to accelerate online learning and the use of innovative technology in educational delivery and to improve student success and graduation.

As of this spring the first cohort of 40 students in the program is wrapping up its first year, with another 46 students who will start this fall.

Congratulations to the faculty, staff and students that are part of the School of Social Work’s online program, the first entirely online MSW degree program in the state of Oregon. You’re paving the way for new options and increased access for students interested in a social work education!

Pictured above are Sarah Bradley, Ann Curry-Stevens, Lisa Hawash and Denise Grant, back row. Keva Miller, Roxanne Dinca and Laura Nissen, front row.

School Strategic Planning Committee Continues Work


Thank you to the members of the SSW Strategic Planning Ad Hoc Committee for generously giving their time and energy to the School’s first strategic planning process. The committee has been hard at work over the last year, reviewing and refining an enormous amount of community thoughts and feedback on the question of what makes a great school of social work. Through a combination of listening, reviewing data, and deep and thoughtful discussion, the committee developed a set of strategic priorities to guide the next steps in the planning process. To learn more about strategic planning at the School of Social Work, please visit the committee’s website.

Pictured above are Committee members Cimone Schwoeffermann, Celeste Moser, Ann Curry-Stevens, Miranda Cunningham, Tom Keller, Gita Mehrotra, Sarah Bradley, Laura Nissen, and Keva Miller, back row. Katie Cagle, Roxanne Dinca, Rosella Stanley, Elaine Szeto and Norm Wyers, front row. Not pictured here: Committee member Sean Derrickson. 

School Welcomes Newest MSW Class in Portland

MSW Orientation Saturday 2015

Nearly 150 newly admitted students to Portland State University’s Masters of Social Work program in the School of Social Work gathered for three spring orientation sessions in May. In preparation for their program start this fall, these new students learned what courses they’ll be taking, how their field placements will work, and — perhaps most importantly — they learned about the wide and deep professional and personal knowledge and experience each brings to the program. Congratulations to the incoming MSW class! You are the future of social work in Oregon!

School Celebrates Its 50th Birthday and Site Coordinator Retirement in Medford

IMG_4973 IMG_4942 IMG_4921 IMG_4913

On Monday, May 4 the Portland State University School of Social Work threw its southern Oregon 50th Birthday Party in Medford.

Over 40 alumni, field coordinators and other social workers associated with PSU’s School of Social Work distance option program in Ashland celebrated the School’s 50th birthday, as well as appreciating the amazing contributions of Gretchen Thiel, long-time SSW faculty member and Ashland Site Coordinator who is retiring this year.

Pictured above from top left clockwise — Celebration attendees; Gretchen Thiel and Laura Nissen with a potential future social work student and her mother, a current one!; cakes for the School and Gretchen; SSW team members Rick Jung, Gretchen Thiel, Kurt Bedell, Katie Cagle and Laura Nissen. 

Late SSW Faculty Member Named Diversity Award Winner


A beloved and deeply missed member of the Portland State University School of Social Work family, the late Charlotte Goodluck, was awarded the President’s Global Diversity Award posthumously at an event announcing the President’s Diversity Awards 2015 on May 20.

Dean Laura Nissen and members of the School of Social Work and Indigenous Nations Studies Program were on hand to receive the award on Charlotte’s behalf.

In words shared by Interim Chief Diversity Officer Chas Lopez, who presented the award and made a special tribute, “[Charlotte’s] greatest legacy will remain the thousands of students that she taught in her lifetime and their continuing efforts to practice ethical, culturally responsible and impactful social work.”

memorial scholarship has been set up in Charlotte’s name to provide important financial support to students working towards a Bachelor of Social Work Degree within the School of Social Work and/or to students working towards a minor degree in the Indigenous Nations Studies within the School of Gender, Race and Nations Initiative. -> Learn More

Pictured above are Cornel Pewewardy, director of Indigenous Nation Studies Program; Danica Brown, SSW graduate student; Laura Nissen, SSW dean; Sona Andrews, PSU provost; Wim Wiewel, PSU president; Alma Trinidad, SSW faculty; Michael Taylor, SSW faculty and BSW chair; Joe Talik, MSW ’15; Cimone Schwoeffermann, SSW staff; Lee Ann Holder, SSW faculty.

“Toast to Terry Cross” Celebrates SSW Honorary PhD Degree Recipient

IMG_5994 IMG_5925 IMG_6004 IMG_5974

Nearly 30 members of the Portland State University School of Social Work community gathered on May 29 to celebrate the forthcoming honorary PhD degree to be bestowed on Terry Cross, Portland State University School of Social Work alumnus and faculty, at this year’s PSU commencement.

Faculty, staff, students and esteemed faculty emeriti toasted to Terry’s 40 year career working passionately and tirelessly to improve policies and services for American Indian children and communities.

-> Learn more about Terry’s amazing history, work and spirit.

Terry will receive his honorary degree and speak to the graduating class of 2015 at the commencement exercises for the Professional Schools and Colleges on June 14, 2015 from 3:30 – 6:00 p.m. at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter.

Congratulations Terry! We are honored to have you a part of our School of Social Work community and are humbled by your passion, advocacy and service.

Pictured above from top left going clockwise are Terry Cross with Joan Shireman; Nancy Korloff, faculty emerita, Dean Laura Nissen and Norm Wyers, faculty emeritus; the assembled celebrants; Dean Laura Nissen with Terry Cross.

Systems of Care Institute Wins Statewide Award

System of Care Champions 2015

Congratulations to the Systems of Care Institute team within our School of Social Work’s Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services which received a statewide award earlier this month at the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day in Salem.

Each year, the Oregon Family Support Network (OFSN) recognizes individuals and/or organizations who exemplify the Systems of Care philosophy and values/principles.

Our Systems of Care Institute develops extensive statewide and local workforce development programs designed to promote sustainable systems changes across child welfare, mental health, education, juvenile justice and other related systems.

Pictured above are Samantha Goodson, Trainer/Consultant, Dan Embree, Assistant Director of Training and Consultation, Melissa Maebori, Program Coordinator, Mark Zubaty, Trainer/Consultant, John Pavlack, Trainer/Consultant, and Ermila Rodriguez, Trainer/Consultant.

New Minor in Child & Family Studies Available This Fall

The School of Social Work is excited to announce that starting in the fall of 2015 it will offer its first undergraduate minor! Portland State University students will be able to complement their major coursework with a Minor in Child & Family Studies. Students who complete the Families & Society Junior Cluster may complete the Minor with as few as 8 additional credits! More details will follow this fall.

SSW Researcher Testifies in Washington DC on Early Psychosis

Tamara Sale - 1

Congratulations to our own Tamara Sale, director of the Oregon Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence at the Regional Research Institute (RRI) — one of the School’s research arms — who was asked to present at a congressional briefing on psychosis among young adults and teenagers in Washington in early May.

The forum was sponsored by the National Council for Behavioral Health and the National Council of State Mental Health Program Directors. Tamara and National Council staff also met with congressional staffers for Sen. Wyden, Sen. Merkley, Rep. DeFazio, Rep. Schrader, and Rep. Bonamici.

In her presentation Tamara highlighted the need for insurance parity among intensive community-based mental health programs and the importance of aligning financial and regulatory incentives across systems to support transition-age youth facing mental illness.

In The News

Portland State University’s School of Social Work graduate programs are ranked #8 in the nation, according to Top Social Work Schools rankings recently released by  The rankings are based on ratings and reviews from more than 70,000 current or recent graduate students participating in more than 1,600 graduate programs nationwide. The reviews were gathered between September 1, 2012 and March 31, 2015 on, a guide to graduate schools created by students.  The rankings were also covered in an article in PSU’s student newspaper, Portland State Vanguard, on May 25.

Here’s a terrific article about MSW Bend Student Sarah Kelley and her work to establish funding for social services programs operating in partnership with the library.

Doctoral Defenses

Congratulations to two SSW Ph.D. students who passed their dissertation defenses this quarter!

Kevin Jones' defense

Kevin R. Jones passed his defense on May 27th.  His topic was “An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of Long-Term Mentoring Relationships from the Youth Perspective.”

Lakindra's Defense

Lakindra M Mitchell Dove passed her defense on May 11th. Her topic was “Got Hair that Flows in the Wind: The Complexity of Hair and Identity Among African American Female Adolescents in Foster Care.”

Please join us in welcoming these newly-minted scholars into the social work community!

Faculty Publications


  • Briggs, H.E., Quinn, A., Orellana, E.R., & Miller, K.M. (2015). Social determinants of health: Effects of service utilization on children’s mental health. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, DOI 10.1007/s10560-015-0395-3.
  • Morasco, B.J., Turk, D.C., Nicolaidis, C, Psychometric properties of the Centrality of Pain Scale. Journal of Pain. 2015. Online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2015.04.005.
  • Brennan, E. M., Rosenzweig, J. M., Jivanjee, P., & Stewart, L. M. (2015). Challenges and supports for employed parents of children and youth with special needs. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), Oxford handbook of work and family. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. -> Get Online
  • Walker, J. S., & Flower, K. M. (2015). Provider Perspectives on Principle-Adherent Practice in Empirically Supported Interventions for Emerging Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions. Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, DOI 10.1007/s11414-015-9465-8.

Other Publications

Faculty Presentations

  • Nicolaidis, C.   “The Doctor is in – and now mostly out: partnering with marginalized communities in and out of the healthcare system.” Keynote address. 4th Annual Primary Care Research Symposium. St. Louis University. St. Louis, MI. May, 2015.
  • Jivanjee, P., Sellmaier, C., & Brennan, E. (2015). Development and testing of the Transition Service Provider Competency Scale. Western Social Science Association Conference, Portland, OR April 2015.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals

On Higher Education

On Social Work Education

Storify notes directly from the Social Work Distance Education Conference recently held in Indianapolis.  You can read Twitter feeds and collect other notes directly from the event.  It’s the next best thing to being there!

On Portland and Oregon

On Social Media, Technology and Communications

Author: sswdeanconnect

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

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