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

August 2015 Connect

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Dear Friend of the School of Social Work, Portland State University,

The summer season winds down with lots of anticipation for an exciting academic year to come. Here in the School of Social Work, the summer has let many of us take some much deserved time off for rest, relaxation and inspiration. It also provides those of us on 12-month work schedules with time to focus on core administrative reflection and engagement. Here’s hoping that all who are reading this have had a chance to get away and refuel as well!

In the life of a busy school like ours many things still happen in the summer. Here’s a little on what we’ve been up to.

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


Dr. Jim NashJim Nash 2006

It is with great sadness that we share with you the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Jim Nash, who passed away peacefully at his home on August 3, 2015 after a battle with cancer. Jim is remembered for his warmth and kindness, quiet strength, and deep commitment to the School of Social Work through his strong leadership both as faculty and an administrator. Clearly Jim’s life and work touched so many. Many have shared their thoughts, memories and prayers about Jim on our School’s Facebook page. Any additional details on arrangements will be posted there. He is deeply missed.

Good News!

Welcome Eddie May

I’m pleased to announce the newest member of our School of Social Work team, Eddie May.  I asked Eddie to share with you a little about his role, background and hopes for the work he’ll be doing here in the School.

I am excited to join the School of Social Work in such a layered and innovative role. As the Assistant Director of Field Education and Distance Options Coordinator I feel so privileged to be a part of our dedicated, creative, and talented FieldEddie May team. In my role I look forward to supporting the evolution of our program as we educate the next generation of social workers throughout Oregon. I hope to build our capacity as a School to support, enhance, and advance the work being done in our unique and diverse communities, with special focus on our important MSW Program Distance Options in Ashland, Bend, Eugene, and Salem.

I believe that our social work profession is in a critical state of development and has an incredible opportunity to operationalize its identity. We must stand up, speak out, and truly model our social justice values through action. Whether doing clinical grief and loss work in rural Ethiopia or community organizing for queer youth of color, the advancement of social justice has always been at the heart of my work. My practice and drive for equality has been shaped by my global experiences, and I look forward to supporting our school’s international efforts. We must invest in the globalization of our profession, and I am passionate about creating opportunities for our school to be involved in advocacy, prevention, and intervention on a global scale.

As I travel this year to deliver field trainings and support community partnerships, I look forward to supporting conversations with students, alumni, practitioners and community members around intersectional identity, historical trauma, the impact of bias, and the global connections between privilege and power. It is a time of dynamic change in our School and I’m excited to be a part of it!

-> Contact Eddie

Launch of PSU Online Features Our Online MSW

Ann Curry-Stevens

We’re proud that our online MSW program is prominently featured on PSU Online, Portland State’s new web portal to all online degree programs offered here at Portland State University.

Our own Ann Curry-Stevens, who was involved in developing our online MSW and teaches in the program, is a featured faculty member.

And all of this while we gear up to accept applications for our next online MSW cohort in the fall.

Social Work Students from Northern Ireland Visit School

Queens University Ireland Students Nine social work students from Northern Ireland visited the Portland State University campus on July 30, 2015 thanks to Tim Hartnett, adjunct professor here in the School of Social Work, visiting research fellow in the Queen’s University School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and executive director of CODA here in Portland. Tim has built a long standing partnership with Queens College and for the second year in a row brought students to Portland to learn about social service work here in the US. Dean Laura Nissen and BSW Director Michael Taylor hosted them on campus and talked about addictions work in the US system. Here’s to international collaboration and our common goals around serving those in need!

School Launches The Mentor Program for 2015-16 Academic Year

The Mentor Program

Would you like to help a student transition into their future career? Would you like to reaffirm your passion for the field of social work?

The Mentor Program in the Portland State University School of Social Work pairs professionals in the community with current PSU social work students to enhance students’ skills, develop their job search network, and clarify their career goals.

-> Learn more about the program and how you can get involved!

Upcoming Events

Contact Pathways RTC
Family Support for Transition-Aged Youth Webinar

Are you a mental health practitioner who works with families of transition aged young people (ages 14 – 29) who are experiencing mental health difficulties?

One of the School of Social Work’s signature training programs — Pathways to Positive Futures — is holding a free webinar next month on family support for transition-aged youth.

The session is Tuesday, September 29 at 10 a.m. Pacific.

-> Get full details and register.

Portland State of Mind
Portland State of Mind

Once again this year the School of Social Work will be participating in Portland State of Mind, an annual event that highlights the unique relationship between PSU and the Portland community.

This year’s Portland State of Mind will be held October 22 – 31, 2015. See the event webpage for an overview of planned events.

The School is co-sponsoring a Day of Service event on Saturday, October 24 with the Student Community Engagement Center. There are also additional School of Social Work activities in the works. More details will follow in next month’s blog post and on our Facebook page. We hope you can join us!

Self Care Fair 2016

We’re in the very early stages of planning a School of Social Work Self Care Fair for winter term 2016 and we’re looking for volunteers to help with planning the event. If you’re interested in joining the planning group, or have ideas about possible self care events or activities, please contact Katie Cagle, Dean’s Assistant, at Check out the 2012 Self Care Fair lineup for more information about possible activities and events.

Recap of Faculty Contributions, 2014-2015

The summer provides a perfect opportunity to pause, reflect and recognize the many contributions School of Social Work faculty have made in the areas of scholarship, research, practice and community engagement over the past academic year.

-> Read a complete recap of our faculty contributions, 2014-2015.

Articles and Resources for Social Work and Human Service Professionals

Black Lives Matter continues to be an important and vibrant movement across the country. And of course, we have seen even more death and destruction – horrific violations of human life on numerous occasions.  Good people throughout the country are joining together to work for change and social work and social work education continue to stand among them.  Intersectionality matters as Indigenous lives, Queer lives and others are all urgent participants in the movement to condemn overrepresentation of marginalized persons by the police and to increase justice and voice in these movements.

In case you aren’t yet plugged into the wealth of leadership, voices, and activity you can start here.   There are so many new and valuable pieces flooding the airwaves on the issues of this movement right now, but here are a few that jumped off my computer screen at me this past month:

Helpful and useful updated overview of 2015 federal budget spending in the U.S.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is investing substantially in racial equity work.  Here’s a really helpful resource page full of notable tools, publications and other resources they’ve developed with a phenomenal international group of scholars and activists (including PSU Alum and recent PSU Commencement Speaker and Honorary Ph.D. Awardee, Terry Cross).

Happy 25th birthday to the ADA in the United States.  To mark the occasion there are many useful resources in circulation right now:

An extraordinary and difficult story has been that of the role of the APA in recent military and intelligence work regarding torture.  The APA has issued a formal ban on members’ involvement in such activities after exposing previous engagement.    

Here is a short piece about six psychologists who were fighting the engagement of mental health professionals and experts in human rights violations throughout.  Theirs is an important story of ethics and courage.   

There is a new (and controversial) mental health bill being vetted right now – known as the “Murphy” bill – technically HR 2646 – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.     -> Watch a brief CNN piece about it.  

  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and other consumer and mental health organizations are actively working on various versions of this bills — the earliest bills fell significantly — and it has continued to raise some serious concerns.   -> Read CSWE’s principles  -> Read additional coverage 
  • National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD) will be receiving a full briefing on this law when we get together at the APM this fall.   Will continue to share information as it becomes available.  Those concerned with the future of mental health services in the U.S. will want to be watching this carefully.  

The ACLU has published a recent guide to reporting police misconduct which is a helpful resource for those working in all of our social service settings.

On Higher Education

Great little piece about how to make the federal public service loan forgiveness program work for you – so important to our students. Let’s circulate this far and wide!

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a story about the decrease in campus-based crime in the U.S. Useful information.

Serious piece in the Chronicle regarding student textbook costs (continuing to increase) as well as the more frequent phenomena of students simply not buying the books. Worth a quick read.  This is relevant and related to PSU’s own efforts to actively reduce costs for students in this area.  See PSU’s recent task force report.

Thoughtful piece about the art of building better discussions in class.

On Portland State University

In case you hadn’t heard, due to the funding received by the Oregon State Legislature late in the session, PSU’s planned tuition hike will be smaller than anticipated. Instead of 4.2 percent increase, tuition will rise only 3.1 percent.  Great news on the tuition front for now. Every little bit helps!  -> Get additional details

On Oregon

Here’s a great little summary of the results of the 2015 Oregon Legislative session. Numerous items relevant to our School of Social Work interests and foci.

Related to this is a helpful analysis of recent Sanner analysis with the Oregon ACLU regarding regional trends in racial profiling legislation, and specifically those that have been passed in our state.

OPB did an interesting social justice-centered piece recently on the work of two PSU climate researchers focused on the “heat map” of the city, and not surprisingly, its correlates in well-being, pollution and economic resources. Relevant across many areas of our practice.

On Social Media, Technology and Communications

Very interesting and important new report on model regulatory standards for technology and social work practice issued by the International Association of Social Work Boards. This is further shaping the national conversation about the important roles these tools play in practice.

The most recent edition of the journal “Advances in Social Work” is dedicated to the topic of technology, the internet and social work practice. Available free and fully downloadable. Some important and interesting ideas and resources here.

Author: sswdeanconnect

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

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