Dear Friend of the Portland State University School of Social Work,
As I reflect on my first full year as dean of the School of Social Work at Portland State University, I’m humbled by the scope and scale of challenges we face in social work education, as well as in higher education as a whole.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that we’ll get all the problems we face solved in the next few weeks, months or even years. But here in the School of Social Work we have made great progress this past year. For instance, the bones of our first strategic plan in the history of the School are in place. We’re working in a rapidly changing ecosystem that requires our agility and creativity. Further, it requires deep consideration and a new level of political acumen to protect what is most important about our work of preparing students and developing new knowledge. At the same time, we must be courageous and take chances to respond to the changing landscape around us.
As an organizational scholar, in addition to other areas of my own practice, I’ve found the “wicked problems” lens to be helpful as we navigate these complicated times. First coined by Rittel and Weber in 1979, the idea of wicked problems is that they are constantly changing, defy consistent identification and location, are connected to lots of other challenging issues, are high stakes, and that even potential solutions may cause other problems. Solutions are only possible through strong leadership teams in partnership with those people who are most impacted.
By working closely together, communicating clearly, “de-tangling” our challenges, and finding creative solutions, we’re on the best path forward to arrive where we want to be. I’m honored to work in a place where our practice causes us to not only focus on the issues “out there” in the social work and human service practice areas, but to have the courage to look at ourselves honestly as well and be available for challenging conversations. Building our capacity to “get to solutions” means helping each other navigate new kinds of complexity. As Ramaley says in her 2014 piece on this topic, we must commit even further to being boundary spanners which is the only road to success.
Happy summer and here’s to being committed, courageous and effective collaborators. Thanks for all that each of you do to make that happen a little more every day.
As always, the best way to keep in touch with us day-to-day is via our Facebook page. “Like” us today!
Dean and Professor
Terry Cross Receives Honorary PhD from Portland State
On Sunday, June 14, 2015, Terry Cross — a distinguished alumnus and former faculty member of the School of Social Work — received an honorary PhD from Portland State University at its commencement ceremonies.
After receiving his degree, Terry delivered the commencement speech to graduates and assembled guests. His address was a mixture of reflection on his own experiences working for social justice and advocating for Indian child and communities and advice to the new graduates.
Some highlights from his address:
“An MSW does not a social worker make. Remember, it’s not the degree. It’s what you do with it.”
“When people ask me ‘what is the secret of your success?’ I usually say that it’s mostly about ‘showing up.’ You see, I didn’t set out to be a leader. I didn’t set a goal of establishing a successful national nonprofit or writing a seminal work defining cultural competence. I set out to confront and correct, wherever I could, the racial inequities that I had experienced as a child….”
“When there were moments of opportunity to bring change, I took advantage of them. When an elder said, ‘You will speak on our behalf,’ I did. When someone said, ‘Go dream,’ I jumped in.”
“The deepest feeling I have about this life of service is gratitude. I have learned that every door that opened was prepared by others before me. I have come to know that for me to make a difference, someone had to prepare me, believe in me, support me, or teach me.”
“Will we repeat unsustainable patterns of artificial hierarchy based on culture and skin color, or will we pursue a path of truth, healing, and reconciliation? The answer depends entirely on our collective internal compass. We can easily look back 50 or 150 years and see the injustices that were then commonplace. It is much harder to see injustices as they exist around us, such as over-incarceration or income inequality. But somehow, we must.”
“My invitation to you all is simply this: show up, in service to others, with gratitude and courage, with your compass held firmly on true North, and I guarantee that you will have an interesting life. You will not just have letters behind your name or volumes of acquired knowledge. You will understand that knowledge in context is the essence of wisdom.”
Congratulations, Terry! We are humbled by your work and service and delighted that you have been recognized with this distinguished honorary degree.
The countless hours of classroom, field, and study time for 362 students in Portland State University’s School of Social Work came to an exciting culminating point as participated in commencement ceremonies this past June.
At the School’s individual commencement ceremonies and the university’s commencement exercises, students from our Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Child and Family Studies (CFS), Master of Social Work (MSW) and Doctoral (PhD) programs were recognized and celebrated for their academic and community service achievements.
An impressive 35% of this year’s BSW, CFS and MSW students graduated with special academic honors. Our MSW program graduated 223 students, making it the top Masters program in terms of number of graduates at PSU this year.
*Infographic data based on Portland State University School of Social Work data as of June 12, 2015. Includes BSW and CFS students with Latin honors and MSW students with 3.95 GPA or higher.
Student Award Winners
Thirteen School of Social Work students won Portland State University Student Achievement Awards this year.
The awards highlight students who have exhibited exemplary scholarship, service to PSU, or service to the broader Portland area. The six MSW winners in the Dean’s Award for University Service category were nominated for their work with the Student Support Network, a new peer-led group focused on providing support, leadership and action to SSW students.
Public service is at the heart of a social work education, so having 8 of the School’s 13 winners recognized for service awards reinforces the important work our students are doing to build and strengthen community.
Congratulations to our 2015 Student Achievement Award winners!
Dean’s Award for Academic Achievement
Doctoral — Nick Winges-Yanez
Master’s — Jeremy Swanburg
Undergraduate — Nicole Barquist
Dean’s Award for University Service
Doctoral— Joseph DeFilippis
Master’s — Elaine Szeto, Karissa Moden, Joshua Wrolstad, Seth Cohen, Jeremy Swanburg, Melissa Rochford
Undergraduate — Areli Lopez
Dean’s Award for Community Engagement
Doctoral — Sarah Lazzari
Master’s — Hannah Heller
Undergraduate — Nicole Hannah
Congratulations to the three School of Social Work Ph.D. students who passed their dissertation defenses this quarter!
Joseph N. DeFilippis passed his defense on June 24th. His topic was “A Queer Liberation Movement? A Qualitative Content Analysis of Queer Liberation Organizations, Investigating Whether They Are Building A Separate Social Movement.”
Pictured above from left to right are Stephanie Wahab, Joseph N. DeFilippis, Sally McWilliams, Laura Nissen, and Ben Anderson-Nathe.
Jeffrey D. Waid passed his defense on July 2nd. His topic was “Investigating the impact of sibling foster care on placement stability.” See Jeffrey in the photo above (second from left) with his dissertation committee.
Pictured above from left to right are Neal Wallace, Jeffrey D. Waid, Bowen McBeath, Katharine Cahn, and Lew Bank.
Pictured above from left to right are (back row) Tom Keller, Jessica D. Schmidt, Sarah Geenen,(front row) Laurie Powers and Ann Fullerton. (Lew Banks not pictured).
Please join us in welcoming these newly-minted scholars into the social work community!
The 10th Annual Liberation-Based Healing Conference — “Challenging Inequities: Decolonizing Practices and Social Action” — will be held this November on the campus of California State University, Northridge.
Many of you will remember that last year’s conference was held right here in Portland and our School has long standing and deep ties with the conference, its leadership and the work. In fact, two of our esteemed faculty members are serving on this year’s conference planning committee.
- Catania, J., Dolcini, M.M., Harper, G., Orellana, E.R., Tyler, D.H., et al. (2015). Self-Implemented HIV Testing: Perspectives on improving dissemination among urban African American youth. American Journal of Public Health, 105(S3), 449-452. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302531
- Catania, J., Dolcini, M.M., Orellana, E.R., & Narayav, V. (2015). Nonprobability and probability-base sampling strategies in sexual science. Journal of Sex Research. 52(4), 396-411. doi:10.1080/00224499.2015.1016476
- Briggs, H.E., Quinn, A., Orellana, E.R., & Miller, K.M. (2015). Community Adversity and Children’s Mental Health: Moderating Effects of Service Utilization and Race. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal. doi: I10.1007/s10560-015-0395-3
- Orellana, E.R., Yac, J. & Brouwer, K.C. (2015). Structural factors that increase HIV and drug use among indigenous gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Guatemala. He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference. Hamilton, New Zealand.
- Orellana, E.R., & Yac, J. (2015). Structural factors that increase HIV and drug use vulnerability among indigenous men who have sex with men in Guatemala. 4th Global Congress for Qualitative Health Research. Yucatan, Mexico.
Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals
- There is a wealth of helpful, unsettling and constructive information about the “Black Lives Matter” movement and all its related partners. There have literally been hundreds of important pieces coming through during the events of the last few weeks. Here are a few:
- New report on the Trauma of Racism, an interview with Opal Tometi, Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter, along with another profile of the founders of the movement here.
- The Washington post ran a strong recent piece (featured widely) urging advice about how White parents can and should talk about race with their children.
- Another piece from Truthout urges activists to be aware that focusing too soon on “healing” can get in the way of action and of grieving.
- What is “ableist” language and how do we avoid it?
- Interesting article about the concept of “holding space” which is a term we use frequently across our various fields of practice.
- Funny (if not unsettling) article about the future of “work” and who’s job will be done by robots. (Quick answer – good news for those of us in the human services – looks like we won’t be!)
- Interesting article about race-based inequity in the U.S. economic downturn.
- In the “shaking our heads” category, looks like CBS is planning a new reality show exploiting those experiencing poverty and economic oppression in a manner befitting the Hunger Games. You can read about it, and then maybe send them an email objecting to this approach. I know I will.
- What does it look like when a whole high school is “trauma informed?” This article describes great work being done in Walla Walla, WA on that topic – and the related film coming out about their experiences.
- New resource from the Pew Research Center on being Multiracial in America.
- Creative and interesting discussion of qualitative research on the emerging roles of social workers in health care settings. If you aren’t signed up or engaged with the University of Buffalo School of Social Work podcast series, I urge you to check them out. Lots of amazing resources here!
- Fantastic recent shout out about the importance and relevance of social work in health care reform particularly with regard to the most vulnerable populations in a series from NPR. This was part of a multi-episode series the rest of which you can explore here if you are interested.
On Higher Education
- This brief piece describes some of the important pedagogical, technological, legal and policy aspects of the concept of “accessible, usable and universal design for learning.” This is a very hot topic in higher education right now.
- Interesting news about new Washington education requirements to include accurate Tribal history in public school education. This is an important step in the right direction.
- This piece discusses the “least diverse jobs in America.” Long story short, we have a lot of work to do.
- Are you subscribed to NASW’s “smart brief?” Great daily updates on interesting things going on across the social work practice and policy landscape. Thanks to Sam Gioia for this item.
- Apparently good news about increases in NIH funding after years of cutbacks. Great piece – fingers crossed. Thanks to Dr. Tom Keller for this piece.
On Portland State University
- In case you haven’t seen it yet, PSU has a website up now dedicated to following collective bargaining during this season. You can learn more about interest-based bargaining here as well as following along with developments.
- Here are some things you need to know to be up to date on Oregon’s new marijuana laws and what they mean for life on PSU campus. Short version: Just because it is legal in Oregon, doesn’t mean it is allowed on campus. University policy prohibits faculty, staff, guests and visitors from using, possessing, or being under the influence of marijuana while on campus. Important read – please take a look.
- Also, welcome to Dr. Carmen Suarez who will be joining PSU this fall as our new incoming Chief Diversity Officer. You can read about her background here.
- Good news about new state legislative successes for higher education!
- Want a quick wrap up of some of the progressive wins in this last legislative session that has just concluded? Here’s a short piece from the Portland Observer. More work to be done, but some progress was made! Here is the Oregonian’s coverage of the session wrap up.
- Check out this powerful short film from Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights presented on July 8 this summer. Portland’s official overview of citywide racial equity goals – an important milestone for action moving forward.
- Did you hear this amazing news? Moved through our state legislature in the final days of the session – bill on its way to the governor. Oregon to become the second state to offer free community college!
On Social Media, Technology and Communications
- There is an entire issue of the Clinical Social Work Journal dedicated to “Entering the Digital World: Cybertechnology and Clinical Social Work Practice.” Excellent resources here.
- Great overview of a forthcoming book (with several chapters provided for preview) called “Teaching in a Digital Age” by A.W. Bates.
- Nice piece about how social media can accelerate a social worker’s career progression.
- Interesting demonstration of use of social media to help homeless youth locate resources.
- Great reading list from our colleagues in the UK about how to use social media to boost research collaboration and community engagement.