COSW Committee Meeting

COSW Committee Meeting

Field Learning Contracts Due to Field Liaisons

Field Learning Contracts Due to Field Liaisons

COSW Celebrates the Retirement of Two Professors

The College of Social Work celebrated with two of its faculty, Drs. Miriam Johnson and Gil Choi, as they retired. Both have accomplished much in their social work careers—at USC and beyond.

COSW Retirement MiriamJohnson 0002Dr. Miriam Johnson, PhD, MSW, most recently served as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. Yet, with 20 years as a practitioner and 20 as an academic, her work has ranged from helping refugees adjust to American life to teaching social work students about research methods. “When I decided to go into social work, I wanted to do something that wouldn’t leave me bored. And boredom certainly wasn’t a problem,” she said.

While Dr. Johnson will enjoy the freedom retirement brings, including spending more time in her garden and pursuing creative outlets like painting and photography, she’s not completely ready to leave the classroom behind. She will continue to teach select classes at USC, and she’s currently finishing a social work textbook with Professor Emerita Dr. Rita Rhodes. “I think if I were walking away, I’d miss academia,” she said. “There’s a synergy you get when different people come at a problem with different ideas. This energy is what academia’s about.” Donations may be made in her honor to the Bachelor’s in Social Work program, which is within the USC College of Social Work.

COSW Retirement GilChoi 0004Dr. Gil Choi, PhD, MSW, has a career that has carried him around the world. Most recently he was an Associate Professor at USC and the director of the Korea-based MSW program at USC, which began in 1993. The program is one of only a few MSW programs offered in its entirety by an American university outside of the continental U.S., and Dr. Choi is proud of all he contributed to create and sustain this project. With the help of Dr. Choi’s leadership, the Korea-based program has graduated over 170 MSWs who are working across Korea, in the United States, and in other countries. Though retired, Dr. Choi is continuing his work with the Korea-based MSW program with a new cohort that entered the program on May 15. Donations to honor Dr. Choi’s dedication may be made to the Korea-based MSW program.

While these two professors may be moving on to new stages of their lives, it’s clear that they’ll continue to make change happen in communities both near and far.  Dean Scheyett reflects the feelings of many when she says, “The College of Social Work and the profession of social work owe both of these pioneers a debt of gratitude. Their leadership has been very important to the College, and they will be sorely missed.”

PhiAlpha 1292-EditPhi Alpha National Honor Society New Member Induction

USC Xi Tau Chapter of the Phi Alpha National Honor Society for Social Work inducted 102 new members to their organization. Phi Alpha chapters strive to encourage social work ideals through service, professional development, and education. This local chapter works to help students develop professionally through practice and experiences outside of the classroom.
Phi Alpha offers or co-sponsors over 170 unique service learning opportunities throughout the year, such as the Second Tuesday Series, and promotes advocacy and service around Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville through events such as the Pride Rallies, Walk a Mile, and Disability Advocacy Day. Upcoming events include the Walk in our Shoes 2014 Homeless Awareness Tour on April 26th and a cookout sponsoring Epworth Children's Home May 3rd.

In addition to service learning opportunities, the chapter meetings feature guest speakers; recent topics include, "Cultural Competence with the Hispanic Community: What Social Workers Should Know" and "Green Social Work.”

For MPH and MSW Candidate Vice President Aaron Guest, the annual induction ceremony is the highlight of the year. Guest said, “The induction ceremony is one of the only opportunities for the whole chapter to come together.” Having the membership together allows for the organization leadership to reflect on what their members have accomplished. Inductees must have 15 credit hours of MSW coursework and at least a 3.5 GPA. This induction ceremony includes a large number of inductees who bring varied experiences to the organization and the COSW.

Phi Alpha President and MSW Candidate Meghan Hill sees the breadth of the community as a huge asset: “The social work student body is so diverse. Between part-time, full time, advanced standing, dual degree, and distance campuses, all of our new inductees have a variety of experiences that have made them great members, and will make them great social workers. I could not be prouder of the cohort of new inductees. I know they will make their marks after graduation.”

Along with the member inductions, the ceremony includes two honorary memberships acknowledging outstanding work for the program or the community. This year’s honorees are Dr. Maryah Fram and Dr. Aidyn Iachini. In addition, The Outstanding Member Award, which is given to a member who exceeds membership requirements and represents the organization in a positive way, was presented to Shaida Blackmon. She currently serves as the Charleston Cohort Representative and helped establish the regional Phi Alpha cohorts at the COSW’s satellite campuses in Greenville and Charleston. Dean Anna Scheyett said, “The entire COSW community is proud of Shaida and all of the new inductees. Phi Alpha is a great opportunity to gain professional development experience and to provide community service.”

Pitner R 350x350

Pitner to Involve Students in Community Issues

Ronald Pitner will bring a fresh wave of energy to the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice as it strengthens its ties to the community. As the newly appointed I. DeQuincey Newman Chair, Pitner directs the institute, which is dedicated to building bridges between the university and the community to enhance social justice.

His priorities are to disseminate social justice research, promote dialogue on social justice issues through town halls and other forums, and increase student involvement. “Active student involvement strengthens, reinforces, and sustains the mission of the institute,” Pitner said.

A long-term goal is to make the institute a hub for social justice research and related projects. A shorter-term goal is establishing an annual small grant to support a social justice–related research project. The grants would go to projects involving a collaborative team, consisting of a faculty member, a student, and a community partner.

Another goal is to create an advisory council comprising USC faculty, a student representative, representatives from other South Carolina universities, and key community stakeholders.

The institute, housed in the College of Social Work, honors I. DeQuincey Newman (1911–1985), a clergyman and Civil Rights leader who worked to improve conditions for both whites and blacks in rural South Carolina.

SaydePortraitDiscovering The Spirit of an Activist

When people read Dr. Sadye Logan’s new book, The Spirit of an Activist: The Life and Times of I. DeQuincey Newman, she hopes they “come away with an expanded vision of who Newman was.” Although Rev. Newman was an important leader of the Civil Rights movement in South Carolina, Dr. Logan thought that the historical representations of him were incomplete. Most of what was written about him comprised newspaper articles that often recited the same facts and events but didn’t tell the whole story. “If I hadn’t been persistent, that’s what history would’ve been left with,” Dr. Logan said.

The biography, which was published by USC Press in April 2014, offers a more complete story of Rev. Newman’s life, told through the voices of a wide cast of characters. Dr. Logan pieced the narrative of Rev. Newman’s life together from the “bits and pieces” that had been written about him and extensive interviews she conducted with Rev. Newman’s family, friends, and colleagues. “The voices of the people I interviewed bring richness to the story being told and, in that way, make the book unique,” she said.

LoganBookCoverThe Spirit of an Activist is a book about human rights, civil rights, activism, and advocacy and, Dr. Logan hopes, an important resource for anyone researching Rev. Newman’s life. However, she thinks it can do more than that. “I think the book will spark more interest in Civil Rights heroes that people haven’t heard of,” she said. “And I hope readers will leave the book motivated to work toward a more just and equal society.”

Dr. Sadye Logan is a distinguished emeritus faculty member of the College of Social Work, the former I. DeQuincey Newman Professor, and founder and director of the I. DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice at USC. Dr. Logan will contribute the proceeds from the book to a scholarship fund to support the education of students of color from rural South Carolina.

Vietnamese Delegation Travels to USC to Learn about Social Welfare Policies

Nguyen featureDr. Huong Nguyen has organized a two-week training program for 23 of Vietnam’s top government officials. The delegation is led by the Vice Minister of the national Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (similar to the US DHHS). Accompanying Vice Minister Doãn Mậu Diệp are directors, heads, and deputy-heads of different bureaus, and departments of the Ministry.

Social work is in its infancy in Vietnam, and the delegation members are interested in creating the infrastructure to support services to vulnerable populations, including children, people with disabilities, veterans, and people with mental health problems.

Starting September 16, the delegation is participating in lectures and presentations by COSW faculty and guest speakers. They are also visiting state agencies and nonprofits to see firsthand how policies are implemented.

SCLENDDeveloping Social Work Leadership in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Three MSW presented their research in front of a gathering of students and faculty members from 10 different disciplines. Rebecca Wells (left) presented her research project titled, "Assessing the patient education experiences of parents/guardians following a child's diagnosis of autism." Bree Alexander (center) presented her project titled, "Social networking after post-secondary education." Erica McCaslin (right) presented her project titled, "Exploring parent-perceived challenges to treatment utilization in a publicly-funded behavioral intervention program."

These presentations marked their completion of a year-long interdisciplinary leadership training program, the South Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (SC LEND). SC LEND is a statewide collaborative made up of faculty and students from the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Greenville Hospital System.

SC LEND trainees complete an interdisciplinary course, participate in numerous leadership trainings, provide clinical services to individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, receive mentorship from families of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, and conduct community-based research and leadership projects under the supervision of faculty members. Interested social work students may contact Dr. Robert Hock (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to apply.

DHart 350x350Why Is “Orange the New Black” for Female Victims of Trauma?

Dr. Dana DeHart’s latest study explores the pathways that lead to jail time for women.

How do pathways to jail vary for females who are victims of specific types of trauma? New research by Dana DeHart, Shannon Lynch, Joanne Belknap, and Bonnie Green has been published in Psychology of Women Quarterly. The study pinpoints caregiver violence, witnessing violence, and intimate partner violence as types of trauma that lead to specific types of offending later in life and offers explanations based on real experiences.

For example, intimate partner violence increased women’s risks for property crimes, drug offending, and commercial sex work. And witnessing violence increased risks for property crimes, fighting, and use of weapons.

Researchers also found that the women they interviewed had high rates of mental health disorders, especially serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorders, or psychotic spectrum disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and/or substance use disorder.

The study concludes, “The research is critical to development of gender-responsive programming, alternatives to incarceration, and problem-solving court initiatives that address girls’ and women’s specific needs.”

DeHart has conducted multiple studies of women and girls in prison, and she is now expanding the scope of her research to see how families of prisoners in South Carolina are affected during the incarceration. With funding from the US Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, she will work with co-investigators Cheri Shapiro and Kathleen Hayes, both with the College of Social Work’s Institute for Families in Society, on this latest endeavor.

NewCurriculum 250New MSW Curriculum

The College of Social Work is pleased to announce changes to our MSW program beginning 2014-2015! In response to the evolving needs of our social work community and partner agencies, the current Council on Social Work Accreditation (CSWE) Standards, and ongoing efforts towards quality improvement, the College of Social Work is modifying our MSW program curriculum. Major features are highlighted below.

A. Foundation Year
Similar to the current curriculum, the new Foundation Year of study will equip MSW students with the basic competencies needed to practice social work in accordance with the CSWE Educational Policies and Academic Standards (EPAS) for 2008. However, the Foundation Year will include some significant changes. First, all students will take a required course on issues of diversity and social justice. Second, there will be changes in the structure of field education. All students will take a weekly integrative field seminar for the first half of fall semester as they prepare to enter the field practicum. During the second half of the semester, the seminar will meet bi-weekly while students begin their practicum. During the second semester of Foundation Year, students will spend two days a week in their field practicum. Third, Foundation Year students will now be able to take an elective during the spring semester, providing them an important opportunity to explore personal areas of interest before they begin their Advanced Year.

B. Advanced Year
Replacing the current curriculum that is divided into areas of practice based on system levels (e.g., individuals, families, and groups; or organizations and communities), the new Advanced Year of the program will allow students to select a specialized area of practice. The new Specializations will provide MSW students with advanced practice social work competencies and offer greater flexibility and choice according to students’ areas of interest.  The Advanced Year plan of study builds upon Foundation Year knowledge, skills, and values with special attention to theories, policies, and interventions grounded in current research within an identified area of practice. This framework includes five Specializations among which students may choose: Health and Behavioral Health; Children, Youth and Families; Aging; Military; and Community, Social and Economic Development.

The new MSW program curriculum will begin for our full-time and part-time incoming MSW students in the fall semester of 2014. Please note that MSW students who are currently enrolled and those who are admitted as Advanced Standing students for Summer 2014 will continue their studies under the current MSW program curriculum.

Dean Anna Scheyett said, “The new Specializations will allow students more flexibility in their education and give them a deeper understanding of their specific areas of interest. Faculty and students alike are excited about this new approach.”
The Field Education Office will be hosting webinars in April, detailing changes as they pertain to field education.

Studying Changes in Substance Abuse Treatment

Andrews C newsDr. Christina Andrews is ready to watch history unfold in the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse.

The USC social work professor is part of a nationwide team of researchers studying the impact of health care reform on substance abuse treatment.

By September, the researchers will begin collecting data from clinics and other treatment centers. After the Affordable Care Act takes effect next year, the researchers will collect another wave of data to allow them to chart the changes brought by the law that many, including the president, refer to as "Obamacare."

The law will expand eligibility for substance abuse treatment and put it on a more equal footing with other medical care. It marks the biggest change in substance abuse programs in decades, Andrews said. “We have the opportunity to collect the data now before the changes occur.”

Dr. Peter D. Friedmann at Brown University is the principal investigator.

Andrews is a co-investigator who will be working with Drs. Colleen Grogan and Harold Pollack at the University of Chicago. Their focus is surveying state agencies that run Medicaid, license treatment facilities, distribute substance abuse treatment funds, and establish health insurance exchanges.

The study, the National Drug Abuse Treatment System Survey, is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It has been conducted in five waves from 1988 to 2005 following the same nationally representative sample of clinics and other treatment centers.

Open HouseNewsStoryOpen House Hosted by Center for Child and Family Studies

The Center for Child and Family Studies showcased its research faculty, Quality Assurance program, Training team, and Information Design team at a recent Open House. Faculty discussed ways to collaborate across disciplines and explored Center expertise.

In particular, Center staff can assist faculty with dissemination of research results. For example, grants often call for dissemination of findings, yet conference presentations and scholarly articles rarely reach practitioners. The Center’s Information Design team and Training team can help faculty think through the best way to target practitioners—a website, online modules, or curricula for in-service trainings.

COSW students discovered that the Center provides rich opportunities for support and professional development. Students can participate in research studies, training development, media production, and language interpretation in a supportive, professional environment that fosters creativity, diligence, and initiative.

Center Interim Director Cynthia Flynn said, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to create more ties between the Center and the College. There are so many ways that we can support each other’s work.”

New faces, new experiences

The College of Social Work will be enhanced this fall by the addition of new faculty with experiences ranging from helping refugees in Tanzania to helping troubled youth in East Harlem.

And their paths to social work were as diverse as their interests. The five new teachers and researchers are: Breanne Grace, PhD, Michigan State University; Nikki Wooten, PhD, University of Maryland; Benjamin Roth, PhD, University of Chicago; B. Sudie Nallo, MSW, Washington University; and Kristina C. Webber, MSW, who is finishing her dissertation for her doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina.

GraceBreanne300X300Breanne Grace, PhD
Picking ‘once in lifetime’

Breanne Grace, PhD, joined the faculty in August as an Assistant Professor with research interests in refugees.

Dr. Grace grew up in Colorado, but her mother had kin in Sweden. So Sweden might have been a natural pick for overseas study before her senior year started in 2003 at Saint Olaf College, about 40 miles south of Minneapolis.

But Dr. Grace wanted to go to Tanzania, and her mother encouraged her.

“Oh, come on,” Dr. Grace recalled her mother saying, “you can go to Sweden anytime, and stay with your family. You’ll never get another chance to go to Tanzania.”

She has now spent about six of the past 10 years living, researching, and working in Tanzania. She has become fluent in KiSwahili and conversational in a Somali dialect of KiZigua/KiZigula.
While there she worked with refugees, igniting her passion for helping them and understanding their plight. All she needed was a profession that could support her passion. “I chose sociology. It was a means to an end for me.”

WootenNikki 300X300Nikki Wooten, PhD
Serving the military

Dr. Nikki R. Wooten joined the faculty in January as an assistant professor. Her research includes studying how military personnel and veterans cope with the stress of military service and deployments.

Dr. Wooten taught at Boston University for over three years after earning her doctoral degree in social work from the University of Maryland.

She is a major in the District of Columbia Army National Guard with more than 24 years of military service.

She has been part of a team using Department of Defense and Veterans Administration data to identify missed treatment opportunities for substance use among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The team is supported by funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is also funding a supplemental grant to Wooten to study the early identification of substance use and psychological problems in Army women veterans.

Dr. Wooten grew up in Tarboro, a town in the tobacco-growing region of eastern North Carolina, where military service is a family tradition.

She has a brother in the Army Reserves who served two tours in Afghanistan, an aunt who served three tours in Iraq, an uncle who retired from the Army at the rank of master sergeant, and an uncle who is a Vietnam war veteran.

Dr. Wooten earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1992, and her master’s in social work from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1995. She is also a licensed clinical social worker with experience providing services to military personnel, veterans, and their families.

Benjamin Roth, PhD
RothBenjamin 300X300 Listening to immigrants

Dr. Benjamin Roth joined the faculty in August as an Assistant Professor. His interest in studying immigration began when he was working on his master’s degree in social work at Hunter College in New York, N.Y.

Roth, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was working with a family service agency that helped low-income immigrants living in East Harlem.

His visits left him with visions that evoked the scenes of New York slums of the late 19th century captured by photographer Jacob Riis.

“Many of the immigrant families I worked with were living in terrible housing conditions,” he said. “When I heard their migration stories, and learned how their landlords were refusing to respond to their complaints, it was clear I wanted to go into social work.”

His work also allowed him to see the influence that nonprofit organizations could have as advocates for disadvantaged families and immigrants—a theme that continues to be a focus of his research.

At the University of Chicago, where he earned his doctoral degree last spring, he studied how the children of Latino immigrants in two Chicago suburbs adapted to life in the United States. Dr. Roth said he was attracted to Columbia in part because of the rapid growth of the Hispanic population in South Carolina and neighboring states.

Sudie Nallo, MSW 
Empowering others

Sudie Nallo joined the faculty in August as a Clinical Assistant Professor. Her research interests include micro-lending and other programs that benefit marginalized populations.

Ms. Nallo was born in Conway, S.C., in 1981, the second of three children of Amidu and Agnes Nallo. Her parents emigrated from Sierra Leone as young people in the late 1970s.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in English from Wake Forest University in 2004, she worked for a year with AmeriCorps/VISTA at Greensboro College in North Carolina, matching students and faculty with volunteer opportunities with more than 30 nonprofit groups.

“AmeriCorps was my ‘ah-hah’ moment,” she said. “My job was to train volunteers to interact and engage with community leaders, allowing people to be the solution to their own problems—empowering them, rather than creating a dependency.”

In 2007, she moved to St. Louis to begin work on her master’s in social work degree at Washington University. While there, she worked under Dr. Amanda Moore McBride, the Director of the Gephardt Institute, who helped hone her skills in cultivating ties between a university and its community.

She also began working as a researcher and loan counselor for the nonprofit Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation. Ms. Nallo helped small businesses develop stronger roots and grow through “micro-loans,” loans for as little as $500.

In her final semester before she was awarded her MSW in 2008, Ms. Nallo began working as a field and research graduate intern for the Centre for Enterprise Development and Action Research in Ibadan, Nigeria.

In one project, she helped a group of orange growers band together to make frozen juice concentrate, rather than selling their fruit as a perishable commodity. She continues to consult for the organization and periodically travels to Nigeria.

Kristina C. Webber, MSWWebber Kristina300X300
Bridging differences

Kristina C. Webber joined the faculty of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina in August. Her research probes school social work, effective education and youth development programs, and sources of racial/ethnic disparities in education.

Ms. Webber, a granddaughter and great-granddaughter of coal miners, grew up in Shelbiana, a former coal mining village nine miles outside Pikeville, Kentucky.

Her mother was trying to support the family in an area where jobs were scarce. When Ms. Webber was in middle school, her mother moved the family to a town near Washington, D.C., where they lived for a time with extended family.

For Ms. Webber, the move involved crossing a cultural divide far wider than the 400 miles between Shelbiana and Washington, D.C. Her experience of that transition is one reason her research interests include the role of schools in helping children cope with psychological stress.

Ms. Webber graduated from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1997. Afterwards, she helped manage a hotel and volunteered with a women’s shelter.

The hotel offered her a promotion to general manager, but it meant a move to another town. She realized she would have to leave the shelter where she had enjoyed helping women and their children rebuild their lives after domestic abuse.

“I felt much more alive and passionate about what I was doing there than with my day job,” Ms. Webber said. “It felt like a career-defining moment for me.”

She earned her master’s in social work at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus in 2002.

She moved in 2003 to South Carolina, where she worked for Charleston County School District. She was in the doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2008 until this year.

Faculty and Students Represent COSW at NASW—SC Spring Symposium

COSW NASWMany College of Social Work faculty and students not only attended the Spring Symposium of the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Work, but they also presented.

Mary Ann Priester, a PhD student, presented with Dr. Dana DeHart and Dr. Teri Browne: “Evidence-based Interventions for Tri-morbid Trauma, Substance Use, and Mental Disorders.”

Dr. Browne also presented “The ACA: Opportunities for Social Work to Improve Health Parity” and served as a panel presenter for the session “The Affordable Care Act: What Social Workers Need to Know.”

Poloko Ntshwarang, a PhD student, presented “A Study Project on Community Development: Insights from Botswana.”
Jennifer Butler, an adjunct professor in the BSW program, presented “Understanding and Treating Self-Harm Behaviors.”

Tori Charles, a first year doctoral student who is also serving as secretary on the NASW-SC Board of Directors, presented “Vulnerable to Valuable: All Conversations Matter” along with two co-presenters from Winthrop University.

Dr. Susan Parlier presented alongside BSW student Joseph Cerniglia and MSW student Leah Leventhal to present “SW Reinvestment Act (SWRA): Building the Profession’s Future.”

Jennie Ann Cole, a third year PhD student, presented “Homelessness from the Perspective of Storytelling with Formerly Homeless Participants” and service on a panel on activism.

Candice Morgan, a PhD student, presented “Rates and Characteristics of Violent Death Victims Among Recently Released Prisoners: Stories Behind the Numbers” and co-presented with MSW student Makarios Tabor on “Visual Service Plans: Creating Better Outcomes with Diagram-Based Logic Models.”

Dr. Daniel Freedman, a clinical assistant professor, presented “Meaning-Centered Treatment in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders.”

Dr. Kristina Webber presented “Closing the Achievement Gap by Combating Stereotypes: A Brief Writing Intervention” with co-authors Natasha K. Bowen and Kate M. Wegmann, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Suzanne Sutphin, a research assistant professor, presented “Working with Kinship Caregivers: Identifying and Addressing Service Needs.”

Dr. Pippin Whitaker, an assistant professor, presented “Youth Capabilities and Leadership Action for Teen Dating Violence Prevention” along with Tamara E. Savage, a PhD student.

Meredith Powers, a PhD student, presented “Ecological Justice: Roles and Responsibilities for Social Workers” along with several MSW students.

Carrie L. Draper, a field supervisor and adjunct instructor, presented “Integrating Social Workers into the Public Library Setting” along with MSW students Yhoselin Gonzalez and Kimyatta Cousar.

In addition, Dean Anna Scheyett facilitated the student panel for the conference, and Michael Ottone, a field clinical instructor, attended the symposium as president of the NASW—SC.

m 1354820716Soul whisperer: USC professor teaches life lessons

In the span of a four-decade career, Nicholas Cooper-Lewter has counseled down-and-out death row inmates, talked professional athletes through sports slumps and preached 
to the faithful in church pews.

Read more.



GoldCertificationCOSW Receives Gold Award for Green Office Certification

The COSW Green Initiative’s great improvements in all five of the COSW buildings have earned the college the Gold Award for Green Office Certification from Sustainable Carolina. Currently the COSW is the only academic college to have achieved certification as a Green Office by Sustainable Carolina.

The Green Office Certification program is a self-audit of green practices by participating offices throughout campus. The goal is to help offices reduce their environmental impact by implementing changes towards sustainability. Examples of new changes introduced to the College include placing recycling receptacles by trash bins in common areas, a small mini-bin for trash by each desk, new reusable dishes in break rooms, and new guidelines and tips for green dining and offices.

Spearheaded by Meredith C.F. Powers, a COSW doctoral student, the COSW Green Initiative began in Fall 2013 with the goal of infusing ecological consciousness into the College of Social Work’s policies, practices, and curriculum during the 2013-2014 academic year. Powers said, “Our main goal is to institutionalize this consciousness so that it becomes part of the culture of the college and is able to outlast any one person’s presence.”

Powers sees this certification as just the beginning. The next step is to work towards greening the COSW curriculum by infusing ecological consciousness and its relationship to social justice into all of the classes. Working with Powers is The Green Team Advisory Committee, which includes faculty, students, and staff. Powers said that this process is already beginning with an elective course, “Ecological Justice,” which will be offered this coming Fall.

The Green Initiative is also sponsoring a lecture series, development workshops, and updated online resources for social workers. The next Greening Social Work Series lecture will be held at the Green Quad Learning Center, Building D on Friday, April 25 from 10:00am-11:30am. The presentation will be provided by George Appenzeller, LCSW, LPC, and is entitled “Putting the Environment in Person-In-Environment.”

COSW Bids Farewell to Three Professors

This spring, the College of Social Work bid farewell to three of its faculty, Drs. Arlene Andrews, Sadye Logan, and Rita Rhodes. All three professors enjoyed rich and varied careers at USC and were honored at a retirement reception in May.ArleneRetire

Dr. Arlene Andrews, PhD, LISW, was a Carolina Distinguished Professor and director of the College’s doctoral program. Trained as both a clinical psychologist and social worker, Dr. Andrews offered a unique and broad perspective to her practice, both as in the field and as a professor at USC. Dr. Andrews assisted in founding the Nurturing Center and was the 2008 recipient of the Woodrow B. Seals Laity Award and the 2012 USDHHS Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Commissioner’s Award for the State of South Carolina. Her contributions to vulnerable populations are vast, and her long and rich career was definitely celebrated at the COSW’s event. Dr. Andrews claims, “My greatest joy at the College of Social Work has been work[ing] with students, in so many ways: in the classroom, through research projects, on committees, in the field, and as [a] mentor to doctoral students as they develop teaching and research skills.” Donations may be made in her honor to the Carolina Fund, which is within the USC College of Social Work.

SaydeRetireDr. Sadye Logan, DSW, MSW, LISW-CP, was the former I. DeQuincey Newman Chaired Professor in the COSW and served as the founder and director of the Isaiah DeQuincey Newman Institute for Peace and Social Justice from 2001 to the fall of 2013. During her tenure as director, Dr. Logan maintained active community outreach. A recipient of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Pioneer Award and elected to the Columbia University School of Social Work Alumni Hall of Fame 2013 for outstanding contributions to the field of social work, Dr. Logan has enjoyed a rich and fulfilling career, which made the retirement event even more meaningful. “For me and my family,” states Dr. Logan, “it was a very touching and most enjoyable event. Your kind words, prayers, good wishes, and very generous gifts are most appreciated.” You can make a donation in her honor at the Viola Vermelle Logan Memorial Book Award Fund, which is also within the College of Social Work.

RitaRetireDr. Rita Rhodes, PhD, MSW, was an associate professor in the College, and her work focused mostly on vulnerable women and injustices they face. With a background in history and women’s studies, Dr. Rhodes brought a broad and interdisciplinary perspective to the College. Her social work practice and research included women and addictions, domestic violence, and incarcerated women. However, the part of her job she most relished was teaching. At the reception, Dr. Rhodes received a warm thank-you for all of her service. She expects her retirement to be busy. She plans to maintain her connection with the College by continuing to serve as a field liaison, and will be working with co-author Miriam Johnson on a new edition of their text on human behavior. Besides those professional activities, she expects to play flute, practice yoga, “continue with my frustrating hobby of gardening and perhaps decide to clean my basement.” Donations may be made in her honor at the Women’s Shelter on North Main Street in Downtown Columbia. This event marked a new chapter in each of the professors’ lives. As Dr. Andrews states, “This really is a commencement of a new adventure, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!”

Jack D250Poetry that Empowers

The College of Social Work is proud to have two poets in our midst. Darlene Jones-Jack and Susan Boykin have each published a poem in the journal The New Social Worker’s Social Work Month series online.

Darlene Jones-Jack (pictured) is a graduate of the University of South Carolina’s Master of Social Work Program. She is currently working as a Program Coordinator at the Center for Child and Family Studies. Read her poem “Be a Helper: Why I Became a Social Worker.”

Susan Boykin is an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina's Charleston Campus. She has been a social worker since 1981. Read her poem “Ode to Group Treatment.”

 Korea-Based USC MSW Program Celebrates 20 Years

Korea 20AnniversaryIn one of the largest hotels in Seoul, over 150 Koreans and Americans gathered for a ceremony to celebrate 20 years of success. Alumni, faculty, and other dignitaries spoke to the extent that the program has contributed to the field of social work in Korea.

Mr. Kee Yoon, a social worker who runs facilities for youth and for older adults in both Korea and Japan, and whose daughter received her MSW through our program, talked about his views. He stated, “Social work in Korea is much more advanced than in Japan, in large part because of your program, which has infused a different way of thinking about social work into the country. Your program doesn’t just provide lecture, you teach critical thinking, you encourage discussion, you require demonstrating practice skills. It is excellent.”

During the ceremony, Dean Anna Scheyett gave the keynote address about community-based strategies to prevent suicide, a critical issue in Korea, and Oyong Kwan, founder of the Korean National Alliance for Mental Illness and a graduate of the program, translated for her. Dr. Myung Soo Lee followed with a presentation about suicide prevention approaches and services in Korea.

Other dignitaries in attendance included Mr. Jaykun Yoo, a former Korean congressman; Mr. Sung Chul Cho, the current president of the Korean Association of Social Workers (KASW); Mr. Sung Kyun Choi, former president of the KASW and member of the first cohort of graduates from the program; and Dr. Oye Sung Hyun, president of the Korean Council of Social Work Education.

The committee responsible for the ceremony raised enough money for the celebration and to fly the founders of the program, former COSW Dean Frank Raymond and former COSW faculty member Paul Kim, over for the event.

The evening concluded with a performance from Professor Insoo Park, one of Korea’s premier opera singers, and a dinner and auction.

In December, the program’s seventh cohort will fly to Columbia for graduation. Each cohort raises money all year long so that they can all make the trip. Several members of this cohort are pictured here with Dr. Scheyett (top row, second from the right) and PhD candidate Candice Morgan (top row, second from the left), who taught in Korea this summer.

Including the students in the seventh cohort, the Korean MSW program has 175 graduates. Gil Choi, director of the program, said, “Our graduates are involved in all aspects of social work practice in Korea, and we have produced much of the leadership in the field. We have created a solid foundation to continue to build upon.”

Dr. Scheyett said, “It was incredibly heartening to see everyone so enthused about this program. The Korean social work community is eager to maintain a connection with the University of South Carolina, and they are very interested in the future of the program.”



COSW NASWAwards March2014 0479NASW SC Students of the Year

The winners of the MSW and BSW student of the year awards, given by the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, are COSW students Aaron Guest and Caitlin Cribbin.  

Aaron is a second year student in the MSW/PH (public health) dual degree program. The person who nominated him noted, “Aaron really embodies everything I hope to see in a social worker.  He is smart and capable and takes initiative.  He has excellent advocacy skills and organizational skills.  Most importantly, he is a warm, caring, somewhat self-effacing young man with a true heart for the profession.  Knowing Aaron makes me proud to be a social worker and gives me confidence in the future of the profession.”

Caitlin is a senior completing her field internship at C. A. Johnson High School in Columbia, SC. Her nominator stated, “Ms. Cribbin’s career interests and goals are split between clinical work and macro work. She considers the major goals of the social work profession to be empowering clients and advocating for social justice.… her heart is to serve as an advocate and counselor for vulnerable and at-risk populations, especially in the fields of mental health practice. Ms. Cribbin demonstrates an understanding of values and ethics that is consistent with the social work profession.…Ms. Cribbin’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills are outstanding. I expect Ms. Cribbin to be an asset in the social work profession.”

The faculty congratulate both students, and Dean Anna Scheyett said, “We are very fortunate to have such gifted and dedicated students. We are extremely proud of Aaron and Caitlin.”

Helping vets with hidden scars

N BrownMilitaryA soldier’s mom worries every day. Nancy Brown’s son came home safe but the USC social work professor has seen others who survived war only to take their lives under the stresses that linger. Now she has helped start a program at USC that equips people to help struggling veterans.

Read more.

IPE FirstNazFairStudents Lead Health Fair at First Nazareth

This month USC’s chapter of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement Open School partnered with First Nazareth Baptist Church to host its first ever Health Fair.

IHI Open School is an interprofessional education organization comprised of students and faculty from all health sciences programs at the university. Its objective is to improve community health by providing upcoming health professionals opportunities to learn about quality improvement and patient safety.

Nearly 100 students from a variety of disciplines volunteered at the Health Fair, as well as members of the COSW Black Social Work Student Association, Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society, and First Nazareth Baptist Church.  

With the Affordable Care Act’s March 31st enrollment deadline approaching, members of the IHI Open School were inspired to provide uninsured members of the community with resources to make informed health decisions. University students Sara Goldsby and Nadya Toubou-Fackche coordinated and co-chaired the event. Thanks to their efforts, attendees gained access to information about the Affordable Care Act, medication safety, end-of-life options, and more. The chapter also collaborated with several community agencies to provide health screenings, exams, and assistance with insurance sign-up.

Sara, a dual degree masters student in the College of Social Work and the Arnold School of Public Health, was recently elected chapter president of IHI Open School. Sara expressed that “while this event was initially a student idea, it evolved into a true partnership and collaboration with First Nazareth Baptist. The students and the congregation worked together to develop the event, and to tailor it to the community’s needs and wants. It was that cooperation, and the cooperation from the other community agencies involved that made the event possible.”

Dr. Teri Browne wins NKFSC Chairman's Award

The National Kidney Foundation of South Carolina has presented Dr. Teri Browne with their 2013 Chairman’s Award, which T BrowneCUrecognizes her outstanding vision, generous commitment, and support of their organization. Dr. Browne has been involved with the Foundation nationally for 18 years and has been a part of the local Foundation for 5.
Dr. Browne serves on the planning committee for the Foundation’s annual Patient Empowerment Day, which aims to help kidney patients and their families learn about kidney disease, connect with other patients, and meet with experts in the field. This year, Columbia’s Patient Empowerment Day was the largest in the country.
According to Dr. Browne, “Working with the National Kidney Foundation helps ensure that my research is patient-centered. You want to conduct research that matters to patients and come up with problems and solutions that matter to patients, not just academics. It also provides an important opportunity for the College because kidney facilities are the only area of healthcare that mandates that social workers have MSWs. This makes kidney research an important and exciting area for social work study.”
For the last three years, Dr. Browne has been overseeing a team of three graduate and five undergraduate students from the College of Social Work. As part of their activities, the students volunteer at the National Kidney Foundation of SC. They contact patients, work with dialysis units, and help events run smoothly.
Felix Weston, one of Dr. Browne’s research assistants, said, “Dr. Browne has been one of the single greatest influences in my love for research and this wonderful field of social work. She is very passionate and extremely knowledgeable in regards to her work and it has been an honor and a privilege to learn from her. The work that Dr. Browne has done and is continuing to do will help millions of individuals who suffer from kidney disease, and she is very deserving of her award.”

Pictured from left to right: BSW Student Keenan Fisher, BSW Student Cassidy Shaver, MSW student Felix Weston, MSW student Caitlin Horan, MSW student Lesley Jacobs, Dr. Teri Browne, BSW Student Valare Stiling


VietnamMaymesterThis Maymester: Social Problems and Social Work in Contemporary Vietnam

Dr. Huong Nguyen invites students and faculty to study social problems and social work in Vietnam this Maymester.  Vietnam is the site of rich cultural diversity and home to about 86 million people. Globalization has largely contributed to Vietnam being one of the fastest developing countries in the world. Having opened its doors to the Western word since the mid-1980s, Vietnam has cultivated a cultural complex in which Western values intermingle with Vietnamese beliefs. With its new foothold on the global stage, the country thrives in a state of continuous redefinition and transformation.    

Since its decision to adopt a market economy in the 1980s, Vietnam has not only experienced vast economic growth, but has set its sights on “social reforms” one of which being the historic development of the social work profession. The Vietnamese government currently aims to train new and to retrain 60,000 social workers by 2020 to deal with social problems resulting from fast modernization, urbanization, and globalization.  

MOLISA 1Dr. Nguyen said, “The students I have taken to Vietnam before often told me that the trip was a life-changing experience to them. So that’s what I hope for this first cohort of USC students and faculty who are going to Vietnam: a life-changing experience. At the most basic level, I hope a trip to Vietnam will bring them new insights about what social work can be and what social workers can do.”

All USC students (undergraduate and graduate) and faculty are eligible to apply.

If you are interested, this flyer contains more information.

WootenVA RDayCOSW Strengthens Collaboration with VA Medical Center

Recently, the College of Social Work participated in the Research Day sponsored by the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Columbia, SC. Dean Anna Scheyett presented an overview of social work–related research and opportunities for collaboration. She emphasized the translation of research to policy and practice, innovative dissemination to a wide range of audiences, and most importantly, engaging and learning from hard-to-reach populations. Her presentation dovetailed nicely with that of Dr. Sara Knight, Deputy Director of Health Services Research and Development, who emphasized the importance of translating research and engaging veterans in their communities.

Dr. Nikki Wooten, Assistant Professor for Military Social Work Research and Practice, presented a poster presentation titled “Gender Differences in Substance Use Treatment in the Year Prior to Deployment in Army Service Members.” The study found that Army women were less likely to receive military lifetime substance use diagnoses and substance use treatment the year prior to deployment. These findings suggest gender disparities in military-provided substance use treatment and that military substance use assessment protocols may not be sensitive to gender differences.

These presentations strengthened the relationship between the College of Social Work and the VAMC. Potential collaborative research areas include addictions, trauma, criminal justice, veterans’ families and family services, health disparities, and intimate partner violence. Both the College and the VAMC are eager to develop research projects to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

RaymondScheyettAre You Up to the Deans’ Challenge in 2014?

The College of Social Work is encouraging alumni to accept the Dean’s Challenge this year. Dean Anna Scheyett and former Deans Frank Raymond, Leon Ginsberg, and Dennis Poole have each made a financial commitment to support the COSW, and they challenge all alumni to join them.

To celebrate the College of Social Work’s 45th anniversary, we are asking that alumni each donate at least $45. If every graduate did so, we would raise an additional $268,380 to enhance the College of Social Work educational experience at Carolina. We are well on our way towards reaching that goal. Through your support, you will be stepping up to the challenge and leaving a lasting impact on your alma mater.

“I support the COSW to ensure future social workers have the opportunity to learn the skills they need to help grow our community,” Jeremy Martin, MSW, ’12 stated. “By supporting the COSW I can be sure that tomorrow’s social workers can find the education they need to thrive.”

The College values every gift to the College of Social Work. Please consider making a gift or pledge now.

AlumAward PattersonAlumni Recognition Awards

Four of the USC College of Social Work’s distinguished alumni received recognition at this year’s hooding ceremony on May 10. Patrick J. Patterson, MSW, MPH, and Teresa Arnold, MSW, received the Alumni Award, and George W. Appenzeller, LPC, LISW-CP/AP, MSW, and Sarah L. Meadows, MSW, received the Pioneer Award.

Each year, the College of Social Work faculty present two winners with the Alumni Award in recognition of the graduates’ outstanding work that reflects the values and professionalism expected from the COSW. This year’s recipients embody these criteria through their dedicated service and contributions to the profession of social work.

Patrick J. Patterson, MSW, MPH, has managed and provided leadership on statewide, regional, and national fatherhood and family strengthening initiatives in both public and private sectors. Mr. Patterson’s career began during his time as South Carolina’s first-ever, statewide Fatherhood Initiative manager. Mr. Patterson co-founded the South Carolina Fatherhood Practitioners Network, a 350-member network designed to train and build the capacity and skills of professionals working with fathers.

Today, Mr. Patterson is a senior manager at ICF International. In this role, Mr. Patterson is responsible for providing leadership and oversight to build infrastructure to serve fathers and their families. The award recognizes Mr. Patterson’s outstanding contributions to the field as a COSW alumnus.

Teresa Arnold, MSW, has devoted much of her career to improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations. She has served on the boards of Safe Kids and the South Carolina Association of Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. While working as director of governmental affairs for the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Ms. Arnold helped to develop significant legislative agenda.

Ms. Arnold was also the senior research analyst for the SC House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee. As senior research analyst, her responsibilities included developing budgets and drafting and passing the LIFE Scholarship (the single largest scholarship offered in the state). Currently, she is the co-chair of the organization Children Come First. She also serves as the legislative director of AARP-South Carolina. The award spotlights Ms. Arnold’s contributions to her community over the years.

The Pioneer Award, also reserved for graduates of the COSW, recognizes students’ outstanding contributions and work at the state and national levels. Both recipients of this year’s award clearly exhibit these qualities.

George W. Appenzeller, LPC, LISW-CP/AP, MSW, has devoted much of his career to the military—including service and social work. He has 41 years of experience in evaluation, research, administration, program development, policy development, training, and consulting. He has 21 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in children and youth with behavioral disorders. Mr. Appenzeller has been the principal investigator for 350 research and evaluation projects. Also, he has approximately 65 publications.

Currently, Mr. Appenzeller serves as the lead military consultant and therapist at System Wide Solutions, a macro social work practice organization which he co-founded. The Pioneer Award recognizes his contributions to the field of social work through his diligence and dedication to the military.

Sarah L. Meadows, MSW, has 37 years of experience in administration and management, research, program development, training, and consulting in the human services field. She has 22 years of experience as a wilderness, adventure, and experiential therapist.

Ms. Meadows worked for many years as the director of training with USC’s Center for Child and Family Studies. In 2000, she co-founded and joined System Wide Solutions and the Challenge Adventures Program. Within this role, Ms. Meadows provides evaluation and consulting services to education, non-profits, and government agencies. This award recognizes her outstanding contributions to the community and the profession of social work.

USC’s Groundbreaking Korea-based Master of Social Work Program Turns 20

About 30 students and family flew nearly 8500 miles from Korea to Columbia in December as part of a hooding ceremony for new master’s degrees being awarded on the 20th anniversary of USC’s groundbreaking graduate program based in Korea.

The University of South Carolina was the first U.S. educational institution to offer a full master’s program in social work in Korea. Its success—despite economic challenges—is testimony to the quality of the program and the value Koreans place in university degrees from the United States, said Dr. Gil Choi, a USC professor of social work and the program’s director.

The Korean MSW program has 175 graduates, including this year’s cohort of 25 students. Fourteen of the graduates and 22 family members flew to the United States, arriving in Columbia December 12, four days before USC’s graduation ceremonies. Each traveler spent about $3,500 and about 45 hours traveling to and from Columbia for their five-day visit.

COSW Hooding 2013Graduation Highlights Students’ Success

On May 10, the College of Social Work hosted the BSW Cording and MSW Hooding Ceremony for 27 BSW graduates and approximately 250 MSW graduates and their family and friends. This special celebration featured social work at its best. Steven Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, SC, spoke to a full house about the importance of social work to the community. Dr. Lacy Ford, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies, discussed the significance of social work for South Carolina and talked about his mother’s career as a social worker. Students shared heartfelt poetry and reflections about their experiences in the social work programs. The USC COSW community celebrated faculty, alumni, field instructors, and students with awards.

Many of the graduates have shared their success stories with Dean Anna Scheyett. For example, one will begin working as a child protective services investigator with Iredell County in North Carolina. Another accepted a local position at Three Rivers Behavioral Health as a full-time social worker. And a third will serve as the executive director of a local non-profit organization, Camp Opportunity, which provides year-round support services for abused, neglected, and at-risk children.

While in the BSW or MSW program, several graduates completed internships at counseling centers, hospitals, non-profit organizations, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Many graduates have been hired as permanent employees for these organizations. Other students have been hired in various positions both across the U.S. and beyond.

For example, one graduate will be working as a youth development facilitator in Peru this summer. She writes, “The MSW program has certainly prepared me for my upcoming adventures!” Another will be moving to Hiroshima, Japan, to work as a program assistant for the Global Studies, Peace, and Leadership Seminar. She says her position will allow her to “collaborate with global fieldwork sites, prepare international students for arrival, coordinate the online curriculum, and make preparations for the seminar to begin.”

Thanks to the broad scope of the BSW and MSW programs, these graduates will enjoy nearly limitless professional possibilities. They begin their new careers well-equipped to lead social change. The College of Social Work is confident that the pride and excitement these students expressed upon graduating represents their future success in the social work community.

A HannerAndy Hanner Establishes First BSW Scholarship

Andy Hanner recently established the R.A. Hanner Family BSW Endowed Scholarship Fund, the first scholarship for the College’s Bachelor of Social Work program. Upper division BSW students with demonstrated financial need who are interested in working in the mental health or addictions fields will benefit from this scholarship.

Hanner says, “I hope this scholarship will foster and develop more social workers who want to make a difference in our world. Joining with the strong team at the College of Social work will definitely help prepare these students for the demands of the future.”

Hanner is a social worker, therapist, and administrator. He has founded multiple behavioral health companies and has spent his career in behavioral health and addictions. He also serves as the College’s chair for USC’s historic Carolina’s Promise campaign.

He supports the COSW and social work education “because it is such a critically important and valuable profession. A competent, well-trained social worker can be a dynamic change agent, shifting the momentum toward hope in one life, a family, an entire community in need."

WootenPortrait3x3USC Featured Scholar, Nikki Wooten

Dr. Nikki Wooten, a member of the Army Reserves since 1989, brings personal military experience and clinical social work practice to her work.
Read more. 



Roth Invited to Present at Federal Roundtable

Roth newsheadDr. Ben Roth, assistant professor with the College of Social Work, has been invited to present at a roundtable discussion on Poverty and Service Delivery in Suburban America on January 14, 2014, in Washington, DC. The roundtable is hosted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The purpose of the roundtable is to bring together nationally recognized scholars, practitioners, policy experts, and government officials to discuss poverty and service delivery in suburban America. Participants will identify research and policy development needed to understand and address this issue.

The invitation to Dr. Roth is in recognition of his contributions and expertise in the area of poverty and immigration. As a member of the panel “Characteristics and Needs of the Population Experiencing Poverty in the Suburbs,” Roth plans to share his perspective of immigrant and minority populations living in poverty in the suburbs and discuss how that fits in with the broader understanding of inequality.

PhotoVoiceOpening2013Photo Voice Exhibit Illustrates Community Change

The Community Visions Photo Voice Exhibit, supported through funding from the USC Institute for African American Research, debuted May 7 at the Benedict College Business Development Center. Photo Voice is a participatory action research approach that empowers community artists to document their communities, reflect on the meanings found in their photos, engage in critical dialogue with others, and use their photos and voices to ignite social change. The seven community artists involved in the exhibit documented changes in the Lyon Street and Gonzales Gardens neighborhoods in Columbia, SC, over the past two years. The exhibit marks the end of a three-year grant provided by the Kresge Foundation. The grant funded the Community Empowerment Center and several mini-grants aimed at supporting community-level, community-engaged change. The Kresge grant kicked off three years ago with a similar Photo Voice exhibit, in which local artists documented changes needed in the community. The current exhibit illuminates progress that has been made as well as needs that still exist. The goal of the Community Empowerment Center was to build local capacity to create healthy community environments. Even as the grant ends, community members are continuing many of the mini-grants in various forms. For example, one of the Photo Voice artists is using her talents to re-establish a community-run newspaper, which was originally supported by a mini-grant. The Community Visions Photo Voice Exhibit will move to the McKissick Museum for the fall 2013 semester, where it will continue to raise awareness of the power of community-level change.

CSWE 2013Faculty Present at Council on Social Work Education Meeting

Several members of the College of Social Work faculty presented findings at the Council on Social Work Education’s meeting in Dallas Oct. 31-Nov. 2. They were:

  • Aidyn Iachini, “An Innovative Pedagogical Approach to Teaching Social Work Program Evaluation”   
  • Melissa Reitmeier and Terry Wolfer, “Enhancing Social Work Field Education: Using Decision Cases for Field Instructor Training”
  • Krysti Webber along with her former colleague, Kimberly J. Strom-Gottfried, of the University of North Carolina, “Assets and Impediments in the Adoption of Ethical Decision-Making Models”               

Anna Scheyett served on a panel with faculty from four other universities, “Is There Still Room for Women in Social Work’s Global Era?” And Nikki Wooten served on a panel moderated by Carol Doelling of Washington University in St. Louis, “Getting Hired in Academia: A Primer for Doctoral Students.”
The College of Social Work’s Teri Browne, Naomi Farber, Rob Hock, and retiree Jim Ward also attended the CSWE’s 59th annual program meeting, “Global Social Work—The World is Here.”

Nguyen featureChange Spans Cultural Boundaries

Huong Nguyen, a COSW assistant professor and award-winning author, is a catalyst for change in her home country of Vietnam as well as in America.

Read more.

Verizon Foundation presents grant to COSW researcher for project to reduce teen dating violence

Whitaker NewsThe Verizon Foundation has awarded Dr. Pippin Whitaker a 2-year, $15,000 grant to develop an iPad app to be used by Irmo High School students to assess dating relationships with the goal of reducing dating violence.  Dr.  Whitaker, a COSW assistant professor, received recognition for the award at the Nov. 16 USC football game against Florida at Williams-Brice Stadium.

“I am pleased that the Verizon Foundation is supporting our work with high school students and administrators to engage youth as leaders and advocates to promote healthy teen relationships,” Dr. Whitaker said.

About 1 in 3 youth and young adults has experienced some form of teen dating violence, including psychological and physical violence.  In South Carolina high schools in 2011, about 1 in 8 girls and 1 in 10 boys were hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend, Whitaker said.

The Verizon Foundation is funding the second phase of the project. In the first phase, researchers interviewed youth, parents, educators, and state representatives. Youth said they want safe, confidential, and ongoing support to build healthy relationships, Dr. Whitaker said.

The COSW grant was part of $75,000 the Verizon Foundation awarded to seven agencies in South Carolina to assist victims and work toward preventing domestic violence.

“Verizon takes seriously our commitment to ensuring sufficient resources are available to victims of domestic violence,” said Jerry Fountain, Verizon Wireless president for the Carolinas and Tennessee. “Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time when we should all reflect on what we can do to help those in our communities who need help.”

DonorLunchAsia YanceyStudent Scholars Given Opportunity to Excel

LaQuita Cowart, an MSW student, wasn’t sure she would be able to attend graduate school. Her parents were both ill at the time—her father with a fatal brain infection, her mother enduring a second bout of breast cancer—causing her take a year off during her undergraduate studies and forcing her to work while attending school. As she says, “receiving the Mike and Debra Dubose Scholarship meant a lot to me because it just made things easier on me financially.”

Other student scholars receiving fellowships also expressed gratitude, and the COSW brought these students together with donors for a luncheon on April 25. “The luncheon was a wonderful opportunity to meet the recipients of the Dorothy Crouch Kemp Fellowship,” Yancey Wise, one of the donors in attendance, said. “They are both lovely, gracious young women, and it is a blessing to be able to support them.”

Asia Jami, an MSW candidate (pictured here with Yancey Wise) and one of the recipients of Wise’s Kemp Fellowship, is thankful that she was able to avoid additional student loan debt due to the scholarship. She currently interns at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, assisting veterans with cognitive processing therapy. Her career interests, however, lie in assisting abused children, and her ultimate goal is to work with the Department of Social Services.

“It’s not unusual for students to graduate with an average of $38,000 of student loan debt, so these scholarships are truly lifelines for them,” said Dean Anna Scheyett.

Donors to the College of Social Work have assisted Kumar Durgesh, a PhD candidate, not just financially, but also with advice. For the past two years, Kumar, who has a background in microfinance, has developed a curriculum that combines finance and social work in addition to teaching a class on the subject. He claims, “The economic and advisory support that we are getting from the donors has really helped us get all of the pieces from academia and also from the field….That is phenomenal.”

The luncheon was an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the College of Social Work student scholars and introduce them to the donors who have supported them.

COSW professor confronts social work’s complexity with new book

WolferCaseDecisionCoverSocial work professor Terry A. Wolfer is the lead author of a book published in November designed to bridge class work and field work. Wolfer and University of Oklahoma social work professors Lori D. Franklin and Karen A. Gray wrote the book Decision Cases for Advanced Social Work Practice: Confronting Complexity.

Published by Columbia University Press in New York, the book contains 15 cases that involve child welfare, mental health, hospital, hospice, domestic violence, refugee resettlement, veterans’ administration, and schools. The cases were chosen because they confront common ethical and treatment issues.

COSW Dean Anna Sheyett said the book is designed to help students sharpen their critical thinking. In each case, students must sort through the ethical, practice, and personal issues they will face in their careers. The cases revolve around client autonomy, supervisory conflict, and other themes with a depth and complexity that precludes easy answers.

“One of the great challenges in teaching social work practice is helping students move beyond tidy, textbook formulations to wrestle with the messiness of true practice,” Sheyett said.

Wolfer has been using the case method since 2000 for a capstone course that doctoral students take in their final semester. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Recent Contributions in Social Work Education Award from the Council on Social Work Education.

AutismCommunityForum2Autism Forum Unites Parents, Professionals, and Researchers

The first annual Autism Community Forum, hosted by Dr. Robert Hock and the College of Social Work, brought USC autism researchers and members of the autism community together to promote the mutual exchange of information and ideas. Researchers briefly presented their interests and findings and facilitated small group discussions to hear from parents about their needs and suggestions for future research endeavors. “It was amazing,” said one parent. “A snippet about each research study from ‘the horse's mouth’ was excellent. I especially liked the chance to get to speak with each of the presenters.” The Forum also helped to unite autism researchers across campus. They were able to discuss future partnerships to continue to expand information around autism and to coordinate research efforts across the University. “It was exciting to meet other USC autism researchers and hear about the diverse work going on across the University,” stated Dr. Jane Roberts (Psychology). The event was a great success and parents and researchers are enthusiastically anticipating next year’s forum.

Flynn adoptionThe Center for Child and Family Studies is improving the odds for teens to build lifelong ties

When Dr. Cynthia Flynn started interviewing youth who were adopted as teenagers in 2001, she was helping build the foundation for a shift in thinking about families, age, and adoption.

In the field of adoption, where research has been scant, one finding has dominated thinking: Chances of adoption dwindle with age. Flynn and other researchers, however, realized that lower odds didn’t mean impossible odds, and increasing adoption opportunities for teens is vital because permanency is a life-long need.

Flynn, Wendy Welch, and Dr. Kathleen Paget published “Field-Initiated Research on Successful Adolescent Adoptions” in 2004. The federally funded research revealed teens and adoptive parents sharing their questions, decision processes, and actions as they moved from considering adoption to legal completion. Other studies had looked at reasons adoptions failed; Flynn’s group examined the ingredients of success. The paper’s straightforward language lent greater power to the voices of the youth and adults.

“I was awed and inspired by what some of the parents went through. They put their lives on hold to provide these teens with what they needed,” said Flynn, now interim associate director of The Center for Child and Family Studies at USC’s College of Social Work.

The Center has been involved in helping the S.C. Department of Social Services fulfill one of the study’s key recommendations: “Employ caseworkers who specialize in adolescent adoptions.” One such practitioner is Debbie Beecken, a certified adoption investigator for more than 17 years. She spent most of her career with non-profit agencies recruiting families for children whose needs and circumstances made adoption challenging. Since January 2013 she has been employed by the Center to train newly hired adoption specialists for DSS.

Teens’ chances for adoption have improved as the number of case workers trained in the methods of matching older youth to families has grown, Beecken said. “We don’t give up on them.”


College of Social Work Pinwheel Event
Raises Child Abuse Awareness

The Social Work Student Organziation (SWSA), a student group in the College of Social Work, exhibited strong leadership skills as it led an event raising awareness of child abuse. The event took place at the 1731 College Street through a partnership with the Children's Trust of SC. Attendees planted a pinwheel garden in recognition of child abuse victims. The pinwheels are a symbol of the happiness every child deserves. Guests from around the University and Midlands attended the event, including many faculty, students, staff, and community partners. Throughout the day, Amber Schrenkel, SWSA Secretary (pictured) ensured the event ran smoothly and efficiently as she assisted and directed the numerous guests who gathered to celebrate the event’s mission.

Read more

Buddhist approach to the mind and mental health

Buddhist approach to mental health templeThe Venerable Thich Minh Thanh, head-monk of Thang Nghiem Temple in Hanoi shared Buddhist approaches to mental health. Buddhist temples in Vietnam are a frequent destination for Vietnamese people with mental health problems seeking healing. Since 1997, the Venerable Thich Minh Thanh has helped many people suffering symptoms ranging from stress, anxiety disorders, and depression to hallucinations, schizophrenia, and/or seizures.

His therapeutic method is based on Buddhist philosophies about the mind, the self and the root causes of mental health problems. In this talk, he will explain the philosophies and methods he used to help Vietnamese people with mental health problems.ThichMinhThanhFull

Contributing to the talk, Dr. Huong Nguyen presented select cases successfully treated by the Venerable Thich, which she had observed during an ethnographic study between 2011 and 2013.

This event was sponsored by USC’s Science and Religion Initiative.


NASW-SC Conference Features USC Faculty and Students

Faculty and students from the College of Social Work were easy to spot at the 2013 Spring Symposium of the National Association of Social Work, South Carolina chapter. They presented seven workshops, and Dean Anna Scheyett even moderated the NASW-SC Board presentation. During this town-hall-style meeting, participants had an open dialogue with the organization’s leadership about directions for the future. As the current chapter president, Clinical Faculty Michael Ottone delivered part of this panel presentation.

Workshops included the following:

Dr. Terry Wolfer, Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, and Michael Ottone presented “Sharing Best Practices: Problem Solving Ethical Dilemmas.” They discussed four case vignettes involving ethical perplexities, specifically those that focused on the tension between self-determination and best practice, as well as a model for ethical decision making.

Dr. Wolfer and Dr. Reitmeier also presented “Enhancing Social Work Field Education: Decision Cases for Field Instructors.”
This workshop introduced the concept of case method, provided a case for discussion, and presented literature regarding role transitions and the inherent challenges for first-time supervisors and field instructors.

Dr. Steven Lize and Dr. Pippin Whitaker presented “Understanding Human Trafficking: Strategies for Prevention and Intervention.” The workshop informed participants about major types of domestic and international human trafficking and how supply, demand, and control facilitate and perpetuate human trafficking. They used a case study to help participants learn how to respond to individuals who may have experienced trafficking.

Meredith Powers, MSW, PhD Candidate 2014, and Amber Schrenkel, MSW Candidate 2013, presented “Refugees in Columbia, SC: Invisible yet Indispensable.” Taking a strengths-based perspective of the current refugee situation, they presented the process of obtaining US refugee status and then focused on the population of refugees residing in South Carolina. Discussion and activities involved how social workers can provide the best and most culturally competent services to these community members.

Dr. Aidyn Iachini, Dr. Robert Hock, and Dr. Michelle Thomas presented “What Youth and Parents Want from Their Service Providers.”
Data collected through focus groups with youth and parents were shared to highlight key practice behaviors that social work practitioners might consider using in their practice. Challenges to implementing these behaviors based on practice settings also were discussed through case examples.

Dr. Susan Parlier presented “Low Wage and Low-Income Women’s Spirituality while Struggling with Bill-Paying Hardships.”
Low-wage women have struggled with social and economic policies since the Great Recession. In a qualitative study, a theme of spirituality and its meaning-making processes emerged into a conceptual framework. Dr. Parlier led a discussion about the women’s spirituality and the ways it matters to social work practice.

Helen Pridgen, LMSW, Dr. Susan T. Parlier, and Corinne Mercogliano, BSW Candidate, presented “Suicide Prevention: Saving Lives One Community at a Time.”
With suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the US, suicide prevention has become everyone’s business. The presentation addressed statistics, risk factors for depression and suicide, popular myths, suicide prevention research and education programs, and services in South Carolina. The presentation offered helpful interventions in responding to persons at risk.

Exchanging ideas with Cuban scholars

Cuban 2013Two professors of social work from the University of Havana spent a week here sharing ideas and talking with students and faculty.

Dr. Sadye Logan hosted two visiting scholars from the University of Havana (Cuba) October 3-10.  

Mariana Munoz Rodriquez and Lourdes Teresa de Urrutia Barroso, professors of social work at the University of Havana, exchanged interdisciplinary ideas with emphasis on social work.  

“There was a feeling of openness—a real connection was made,” said Dr. Logan, a Distinguished Professor Emerita with the College of Social Work (COSW) and the I. DeQuincey Newman Professor of Social Work Emerita.

The Cubans and COSW faculty explored possibilities of establishing transdisciplinary international community research initiatives, and explored the possibility of developing student and faculty exchanges.

“It’s something that requires additional discussion,” Dr. Logan said. “This is the first step in creating a possible future partnership.”

“This puts the university and the COSW in the forefront of a future opportunity,” she said. “Cuba is our closest international neighbor, and we’ve never thought to reach out.”

Dr. Logan hosted the visit with the support of a grant she was awarded from the USC Provost Office’s Institute for Visiting Scholars Program. She had met Dr. Rodriquez in 2012, when she was visiting Cuba as part of a delegation from the Council on Social Work Education.

USC Well Represented at National Conference

Faculty and students from USC’s College of Social Work were prominently featured at the 2013 conference of the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, Inc. (BPD), held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The BPD is the primary organization that represents undergraduate social work. Its annual conference focuses on education and building the profession.
Presentations included the following:

  • Dr. Terry Wolfer and former COSW colleague Dr. David Pooler presented a paper on “Finding Joy in Social Work Practice: Implications for Teaching Social Work.”
    The paper was based on in-depth qualitative interviews with 26 social workers. They found that practitioners found joy in making deep connections with clients and colleagues, making a difference for clients and programs, making meaning of work experiences, and making a life (i.e., balancing life and work).

  • Dr. Melissa Reitmeier, doctoral student Tamara Savage, and Dr. Wolfer presented the workshop “Developing Field Instructor Competency: Problem Solving with Decision Cases.”
    The workshop included an introduction to case method teaching, a live case discussion of a field instructor case, and information about cases for field instructors. It was based on a project funded by a COSW Dean’s Teaching Award. The case discussion sparked a vigorous discussion and strong positive response among the Field Directors who attended.

  • Dr. Teri Browne and BSW student Cassidy Shaver presented “Using NIH R15 Grants to Educate BSW Students About Health Disparities Research.”
    They reviewed Dr. Browne’s NIH-funded research project that is exploring kidney transplant disparities. Dr. Browne has worked with a student team of five BSW and three MSW students for the last three years. Their talk gave an overview of the project, explored the different components of research that the students have been involved in, and summarized the student evaluations of this experience.

  • Ms. Stephanie Clone, a second year MSW student, along with Dr. Robert Hock and Dr. Aidyn Iachini, presented on the role of strategic planning in fostering interagency collaboration.
    This presentation was based on the presenters’ experiences in leading the development of a statewide strategic plan for youth-serving mental and behavioral health agencies. The presentation also emphasized the unique role for social workers in facilitating these collaborative processes as a way to advocate for systems-level change.
  • Dr. Huong Nguyen presented "Taking Students Abroad to Study Social Work: Practical Lessons and Theoretical Perspectives."
    She discussed her experiences in taking students to her native Vietnam. Her presentation covered various aspects of the trip, including lessons about curriculum development, logistical preparation, partnership with foreign universities, and her students’ overall experience. She later delved into theoretical issues regarding teaching students about cultural competence, diversity, and international social work.


HiddenPictures300x300One Film. One Worldwide Discussion

On World Mental Health Day, the College of Social Work participates in the Global Web Screening of Hidden Pictures, an award-winning new film about global mental health. Filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston, who grew up in the shadow of her dad’s schizophrenia, explores the hidden struggles faced by the 450 million people living with mental illness worldwide.

Through deeply personal stories involving bipolar illness, depression, schizophrenia and anxiety in India, China, Africa, France and the US, Hidden Pictures reveals a global epidemic of silence on mental health, as well as moments of profound compassion and remarkable change.

Tune in during any time on October 10th at to watch Hidden Pictures and join a global dialogue about mental health issues.



Pitner R 350x350Breakthrough Star: Dr. Ronald Pitner

Dr. Ronald Pitner, Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work, has been selected as one of this year’s Breakthrough Stars at the University of South Carolina.

The Breakthrough Stars Awards honor faculty from a wide variety of disciplines who show phenomenal commitment to their fields through research and scholarly activity. Dr. Pitner’s innovative, collaborative research has helped lead to the establishment of the Community Empowerment Center (CEC) in Columbia’s Gonzales Gardens. The CEC acts as a catalyst for building the community’s capacity to develop solutions to neighborhood concerns.

Dr. Anna Scheyett, Dean of the COSW, commends Dr. Pitner for this award, saying, “His work is an excellent example of rigorous social work research grounded in full community engagement and addressing the challenging problems of our times.”

Seeking a Big Impact with a Small Footprint

Meredith C.F. Powers, a COSW doctoral student, is using her skills as a social worker to promote environmental practices that benefit people and their communities.

And she’s starting at home with a small grant from the USC’s Student Sustainability Fund to infuse ecological consciousness into the College of Social Work’s policies, practices, and curriculum during the 2013-2014 academic year.

Powers said she wants to engage students, faculty and staff in practices that most already support: conserving resources so that work is more productive and less taxing on the environment.

Rather than creating a new group, she will be encouraging the College of Social Work to seek a Green Office Certification from Sustainable Carolina. The campus’ sustainability initiative scores departments to award them bronze, silver or gold medals to serve as publicity tools to promote their dedication to sustainability.

To earn any level, an office must meet basic requirements, including having recycling receptacles by trash bins in common areas, and a small recycling bin by each desk. An office earns points for practices such as limiting air fresheners to baking soda, reducing margins on printed materials, maintaining a compost bin in the kitchen and having employees use the stairs (if they can).


FarmersMarketOkraRight Choice, Fresh Start brings more than produce to Orangeburg

A transformation is taking place at the Family Health Center in Orangeburg that is helping to change attitudes about food.

Every Friday, the green space by the health center’s north parking lot is occupied by tables of bright yellow and green squash, baskets of fragrant peaches, and piles of melons—all locally grown and sold by South Carolina farmers. Hundreds of people come to the health center for more than just their routine check-up. Patients, health center staff, and Orangeburg residents mingle around the tables—talking, laughing, and asking farmers about prices and cooking suggestions.

DeHart to Seek Greater Support for COSW Research

DHart 350x350Dana DeHart, PhD, said she will be looking for new ways to support the work of researchers in her new role as the COSW’s assistant dean for research support.

“My main task for this first semester is to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, meeting with all faculty as well as incoming PhD students and post-docs,” Dr. DeHart said. “This is to learn about their individual needs for research support as well as to establish an agenda for building research infrastructure as a college.”

Dr. DeHart also said she wants to make faculty research more accessible for teaching, practice, and policy.

Dr. DeHart received her doctoral degree in experimental psychology from the University of Louisville in 1995, and worked with the COSW’s Center for Child and Family Studies from 1997 to 2012. She has been a research associate professor and member of the graduate faculty since 2009.

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