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SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK • SPRING 2012

SOCIAL WORK

PARTNERS with SCHOOL OF LAW

ONLINE PROGRAM CONTINUES TO GROW HELPING

AT-RISK POPULATIONS ALUMNI SERVING STATE LEADERSHIP POSTS

STRENGTHENING DIVERSITY


TABLE OF CONTENTS

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Online Program

ADVANCEMENT NEWS

OutReach

is published by The University of Alabama School of Social Work Box 870314, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0314 Dr. Lucinda Roff, Dean Vickie Whitfield, Administrative Specialist David Miller, Editor Erin Hill, Graphic Designer Copyright 2012 The University of Alabama School of Social Work All rights reserved. Information contained in this publication is gathered from sources considered reliable. The School of Social Work cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions in this publication. The University of Alabama is an equal opportunity educational institution/employer.

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STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS

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Message from the Dean ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������1 Social Work Partners with School of Law ��������������������������������������������������������������2 Popular Online Program Continues to Grow ������������������������������������������������������������3 Alumni Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Faculty Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Alumni Leadership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 In Memoriam: Dr. Ethel H. Hall �����������������������������������������������������������������������������7 Strengthening Diversity ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������8 Colloquium Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Retired Staff Member Honored ������������������������������������������������������������������������������11 Student Spotlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Advancementent News . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

The BSW and MSW programs of the School were reaffirmed for accreditation by the

Council on Social Work Education in February 2011.

The PhD program is a member of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education and consistently receives high marks from internal and external reviewers following each program review. The School is the only educational institution in Alabama offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in social work.

The University of Alabama • School of Social Work


MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN Dynamic Growth, Progress and Quality

of Minority Health, and head of behavioral health for the U.S. Marine Corps.

The School received an extraordinary response to the primarily online MSW The 2011-2012 academic year was program -- one so encouraging that we one of progress for The University of predict that in the next academic year, Alabama School of Social Work in terms of growth and change. Thanks to half of our 350 MSW students will be distance learners who will complete our investment in growing our BSW, MSW and PhD programs, enrollment practice courses with face-to-face skills labs in regionally convenient locations. numbers are now the highest in the history of the School in all three As we move into the 2012-2013 programs. academic year, we are pleased to announce changes that will make the Quality remains at an all-time high primarily online program an option as well, with the School’s student for more students. This summer, we body being represented by one of will begin admitting students who do 10 national Hartford Scholars and a not hold the BSW to our 60 semester group of students who have taken the hour primarily online program. In the initiative to develop a student chapter of the statewide advocacy organization, fall, distance learning students may specialize in practice with adults and Alabama Arise. their familes as well as in practice with Our distinguished faculty members children, adolescents and their families. are setting their own standard of excellence as they conduct research in a We will reach a milestone this fall when the much-anticipated MSW/JD dualwide variety of areas that affect wellbeing. In this issue, we focus on faculty degree program will be offered for the research concerning assessing geriatric first time. This program creates a link between the UA School of Social Work depression and training mentors to help adolescents who have experienced and the UA School of Law, and provides exciting career opportunities for our sexual abuse. students. Guest speakers to the School this year During this time of remarkable and highlighted our strong partnerships unprecedented student growth, we with service providers. Our campus remain committed to excellence and colloquium presenters included to building upon the School’s strong the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Public Health, assistant foundation. director of the Alabama Department

Dr. Lucinda Roff

OutReach • Spting 2012

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Program Updates

Social Work Partners with School of Law for Dual-Enrollment Program

The School of Social Work will implement a dual-enrollment graduate degree program with the UA School of Law that will unite the MSW and JD degrees. Professional social workers and lawyers alike are devoted to promoting social justice and individual well-being through advocacy, organizational management and public policy. Each profession requires familiarity with strategies for improving the lives of groups and individuals and a broad understanding of fields such as forensic social work, the justice system, human rights, domestic violence and child protection. The dual MSW/JD program will offer comprehensive preparation in these fields to students who specifically seek positions as leaders of their community, state or nation. “This collaboration will be particularly attractive to students interested in public interest practice with under-

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served populations,” said Ken Randall, dean of the UA Law School. The need for the program became evident as many students in recent years who have had to choose between the MSW and the JD programs expressed strong interest in dual-enrollment. Sean Hudson, a BSW student interested in the dual-enrollment program, said, “I have always wanted a career that combines law and social work. I hope to pursue this option when I am ready for graduate study.” Program planners anticipate that in the first through third years, the program will enroll 3-5 students per year. In the fourth and fifth years, the number is projected to increase to 5-8 students per year. Each enrolled student is expected to complete the integrated program in 3.5-4.5 years. The dual-enrollment program will be the first of its kind in Alabama, al-

The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

though similar programs are currently offered at the University of Georgia, Florida State University, the University of South Carolina, the University of North Carolina and Tulane University. The program’s model will draw heavily from the well-established and successful dual-enrollment programs between the UA School of Social Work and UAB’s School of Public Health and between the UA School of Law and the UA Culverhouse College of Commerce. In order to maintain the consistency and integrity of each degree, the current prerequisites will remain in place, but electives will be shared in order to reduce the amount of time required to complete each degree. Students seeking the dual MSW/JD degree will follow the follow the first-year curriculum prescribed by the School of Law, after which the dual-degree program will take effect. Students will then work with advisers from both programs to assure an appropriate plan of study is developed and sufficient progress is made to satisfy the requirements of both degrees. Three curricula will be tailored to the current MSW two-year (60 hour) and spring and summer advanced standing programs. These curricula allow a number of credit hours to be integrated between the MSW and JD programs. The faculties of the School of Social Work and the School of Law have each approved the curriculum plans. The joint degree program is expected to be available in fall 2012.


Program Updates

Popular Online Program Continues to Grow Thanks to increased enrollment and strong student interest, the School of Social Work is expanding offerings in the MSW advanced standing distance learning (DL) program for the 2012 academic year. The DL MSW courses allow students to set their own pace to complete course content and assignments, which are based on the same syllabi and expectations provided in the on-campus program. Some 100 students were admitted and enrolled into the Primarily Online advanced-standing summer program when it debuted in summer 2011. In fall 2011, the number of students enrolled necessitated four sections for each required practice course. Faculty teams have been formed to develop foundation-year course syllabi for the debut of the Primarily Online two-year (60 hour) DL MSW program,

which will launch in May 2012. The current program is developed only for a concentration in children and family, but will be expanding to add an adult concentration this summer. The School has also been developing online access to licensure exam practice tests. Primarily online students stay in touch with fellow students and instructors in both asynchronous and realtime formats, as some courses require students to attend Saturday skills-labs. These labs are conducted by qualified lab instructors in several cities across the state, including Birmingham, Montgomery, Gadsden and Mobile. In the labs, students learn and demonstrate intervention skills through exercises carefully orchestrated by faculty development teams. Skills-lab coordinators monitor the progress of the lab sessions by observing them in different cities.

Students have responded favorably to the skills-lab sessions. They generally welcome the opportunity to interact and learn skills with other DL students. The DL program is replacing all Distance Education Programs in Gadsden, Montgomery and Mobile and Tuscaloosa’s Saturday Program. The School of Social Work will continue to offer traditional on-campus courses and has not seen any sign of reduction in participation in these courses as a result of the strong enrollment in the Primarily Online program. Primarily Online students have access to an online DL club, developed and monitored by a UA faculty adviser. The club was launched in summer 2011 to promote communication and a sense of belonging among students.

OutReach • Spring 2012

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Alumni Spotlight

Theresa Thorne: Debut Novel Named Book of the Year

Theresa Thorne When commenting on her colorful career history, School of Social Work alumna and author Theresa ‘T.K.’ Thorne says, “A funny thing happened

on my way to becoming a social worker.” Thorne’s debut novel, Noah’s Wife, received the 2009 ForeWord Reviews’ Historical Fiction Book of the Year award. Noah’s Wife is a first-person account of the life of the biblical character Na’amah, who has what is known today as Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. The book is also nominated for several Alabama Librarian Author awards. Thorne, who writes poetry as well as fiction and nonfiction works, received her MSW from the UA School of Social Work. She then spent 22 years working for the Birmingham Police Department, from which she retired with the rank of captain. She has been serving for 12 years as executive direc-

tor of the business improvement district, City Action Partnership (CAP), in downtown Birmingham. Thorne is often requested to speak publicly as an author and as a business improvement specialist. She serves on several community boards, including the Alabama Writer’s Conclave, and writes a monthly column for Synergy Magazine. A film based on her screenplay, Six Blocks Wide, has been shown at film festivals in the U.S. and abroad. “My training and education as a social worker have given me a depth of perspective that has enriched my experiences, my writing and my life,” Thorne said. Her passions include community service on behalf of homeless people, at-risk children, and animals.

Karen A. Thompson: Led Round-the-Clock Tornado barded with generous donations from deadly tornado hit town in April 2011 relevance of her UA education was all over the region. Thompson says that Relief Efforts the particularly emphasized as she piloted within days, vehicles delivering donaexhaustive recovery efforts to meet the overwhelming material and emotional needs of a devastated community. TES assists individuals in various ways during crisis situations, helping needy families obtain food, clothing, prescriptions, school and medical supplies, money for utility bills and other needed items. Thompson says that immediately following the tornado, she became aware that both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army buildings were destroyed. The burden of helping the Karen Thompson citizens of Tuscaloosa, therefore, lay Karen A. Thompson had served primarily on the shoulders of TES. as executive director of Temporary When word of mouth spread that Emergency Services Inc. (TES) in Tus- TES was open and prepared to assist caloosa for nearly 12 years, but when a in any way possible, they were bom-

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The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

tions and volunteers formed a constant line of traffic from TES headquarters on 15th Street all the way to Interstate 59. Thompson says that the UA School of Social Work placed teams at the TES agency headquarters seven days a week to offer counseling and other social services to the members of the community who came to the agency seeking help. The office was open 14 hours a day, seven days a week for months following the disaster. Thompson received her MSW from UA in 1992. An exemplary community volunteer and leader, she received the 2005 Leadership Tuscaloosa award and the 2005 Rose Rotary Receipt.


Faculty Research

H elping T wo G enerations o f

AD rt. A-vani R isk P opulations S hah and D r . J avonda W illiams Two faculty members are currently conducting research projects aimed at benefitting specific age groups of at-risk people. Dr. Avani Shah Dr. Avani Shah, assistant professor of social work, is leading a study that uses depression screening to help health care professionals better assess signs of depression in older adult patients. Shah says that depression in older adults is seriously under-recognized and that by having patients complete a short, free, easy-to-read depression screen called the Five-Item Geriatric Depression Scale, or GDS-5, medical professionals can treat depression in geriatric individuals more effectively. The GDS-5 has currently only been validated with a population of male veterans, but Shah’s project will apply it to a more diverse sample of the older population by conducting a study that will broaden its specificity and sensitivity. As part of the project, social work and psychology undergraduate students have been visiting Maude Whatley medical clinic in Tuscaloosa and learning how to screen older adults for depression; they will use the results to provide information about possible approaches for depression treatment. As a benefit to the community, older adults are receiving feedback about their depression status from the screening and taught ways that they may improve their mood. A total of 200 participants will be recruited for the one-time survey. Data

collection is currently at the halfway point and is expected to conclude in about a year. Shah, who is supervising students in all of the research activity, is assisted by Dr. Forrest Scogin, UA psychology professor, licensed psychologist and clinical supervisor, who will review clinical issues for depressed research participants. Lauren Brown, BSW student and Jennifer Shelton, undergraduate psychology major, work together to conduct depression screenings and enter the collected data. Dr. Javonda Williams On the other end of the age spectrum of at-risk individuals, Dr. Javonda Williams, assistant professor of social work, is working to help sexually abused adolescents. Williams’ current research project involves pilot testing a formal training system for mentors of the youth. She says that mentoring has been positively associated with significant psychosocial improvements for these adolescents. Williams reports that youth experiencing sexual, emotional or physical abuse have been shown to be more likely than other youth to have their mentor relationships end prematurely. The purpose of Williams’ project is to make use of and evaluate an evidencebased training curriculum for mentors of these adolescents that will attempt to extend the relationship between mentor and youth to maximize benefits. The project uses a communitybased partnership approach to assess

the mentoring program. The assessments involve pre-test and post-test surveys, monthly mentor reports, and exit interviews with the agency directors, who serve as key informants. Williams is acting as the principal investigator for the project. Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell serves as co-principal investigator. Katelyn Ulmer is the research assistant and there are eight undergraduate student assistants working on the project as well.

Dr. Avani Shah

Dr. Javonda Williams

OutReach • Spring 2012

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Alumni Leadership

Alumni Serving in Key State Leadership Posts

Commissioner Zelia Baugh

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“Helping ensure the mental health of our people is one of the most important services Alabama can provide for our citizens. Ms. Baugh is eminently qualified to guide our mental health system.” –governor bentley

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Dr. Zelia Baugh, MSW, LCSW, was recently appointed commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health by Gov. Robert Bentley. She leads the ADMH work force of more than 2,600 employees with an annual budget of more than $800 million. Baugh holds a BA in political science and sociology from BirminghamSouthern College and a MSW from UA. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, but considers her compassion for patients and family members to be her highest accolade. Baugh credits her experience at the UA School of Social Work as laying the foundation for all of her accomplishments. “The learning environment was very challenging and taught me to think beyond my own limitations and perceptions so that I could help and serve people,” said the commissioner. Baugh has more than 18 years of healthcare experience, including both administrative and clinical experience in psychiatric care and the treatment of substance use disorders, two major areas of focus for the ADMH. Baugh has served on the ADMH advisory board of trustees since 2008 and worked on the department’s systems reconfiguration task force, which, to a large extent, mapped out the future needs of the state’s mental health system for the next decade. ADMH works through a network of state-operated facilities, community mental health centers and contract providers to provide services for more than 110,000 people dealing with serious mental illness each year. It also serves more than 25,000 people per year in substance recovery treatment programs and more than 7,000 indi-

The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

viduals per year who have an intellectual disability. “Helping ensure the mental health of our people is one of the most important services Alabama can provide for our citizens,” said Gov. Bentley. “Ms. Baugh is eminently qualified to guide our mental health system.” Baugh says she definitely hopes to become more involved with the UA School of Social Work. “I see my role as evolving with every step I take, but I hope to be able to mentor more young people.” Dr. Tammy Peacock, LCSW, CADP has been appointed to the position of associate commissioner for the mental illness and substance abuse division of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. Peacock received her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, her MSW from UA and her bachelor’s degree from UAB. “The beauty of a social work degree is the broad range of study. You develop an understanding of the interrelationships between individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities of diverse cultures,” Peacock said. She credits UA’s social work program for her introduction to leadership within social service agencies. This provided her with a strong understanding of the many issues that challenge the leaders of social service agencies. “It fostered that nascent commitment to the underserved and to social justice that I was barely aware existed within me. I see everything through the social work lens today.” Peacock has 24 years of directpractice and leadership experience in the substance abuse and mental health


field, having served in the governmental, for-profit and nonprofit sectors. “As a social worker who has come up through the ranks in the mental health and substance abuse field, the opportunity to serve as the associate commissioner is an incredibly rewarding experience,” says Peacock. Peacock says her job is to support and lead the implementation of the goals of the commissioner and the stakeholders of Alabama’s mental health and substance abuse service system. She believes the mental healthcare field is at a critical point with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While it is in the early stages, Peacock will also be leading the integration of substance abuse services with mental illness services. “This really offers us the opportunity to transform the service delivery system for the state, insuring that our providers are either providing or linking to a continuum of services to holistically address the needs of our consumers. There are opportunities for leveraging federal resources that we don’t want to miss, but we have to insure that we maintain a safety net for our consumers who rely on us for services,” she said.

In Memoriam:

Dr. Ethel H.Hall Dr. Ethel H. Hall, distinguished educator, died on Nov. 12, 2011, in Birmingham. SHE WAS 83 YEARS OLD. Hall earned the distinction of being the first African-American woman to serve as vice president of the Alabama State Board of Education, a position that she held for 10 consecutive terms. Having represented District 4 of the board for the past 24 years, Hall was also the longest-serving member of the current board. In 2004, she declined to be renamed as vice president; the board then honored her with the title of vice president emeritus.

Dr. Ethel Hall

Hall was the first woman and the first African-American to graduate from the School of Social Work’s doctoral program. Also at UA, she was an associate professor emeritus and member of the school’s hall of fame.

Dr. Tammy Peacock OutReach • Spring 2012

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Strengthening Diversity within the School and Across Campus Diversity Committee Supports Inclusion and Understanding

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Charlotte Herrin

“Our CN involvement gives us the opportunity to share with other Crossroads participants about the School of Social Work’s efforts to maintain a culturally diverse environment,” –CHARLOTTE HERRIN instructor and chairperson of the School of Social Work’s Diversity Committee

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The UA School of Social Work’s Diversity Committee is charged with advocating the elimination of any form of discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, mental or physical limitation, or socio-economic status. The committee promotes an appreciation for and understanding of diversity, affirming its value and incorporating it into all aspects of the educational experience. The committee is also responsible for consulting with the school’s administration on events for African-American Heritage Month/Day and consulting with various individuals and committees to help them attend to diversity issues. Diversity is strengthened in the School of Social Work by the committee’s promotion of maintaining an open and inclusive learning environment for students, faculty, staff and the larger social work community. By planning events that educate its constituency on matters of diversity such as African-American and Latino Heritage, the Diversity Committee encourages an open dialogue for engaging diversity. The Diversity Committee links with the Social Work Association for Cultural Awareness (SWACA) student organization and the Crossroads Networks in collaborative activities to promote cultural awareness. It aids in

The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

efforts to support the best and brightest of social work faculty who will be campus models and leaders on matters of diversity. Herrin Brings Diverse Cultures Together Via Crossroads Network Charlotte Herrin, instructor and chairperson of the School of Social Work’s Diversity Committee, is also the school’s representative to UA’s Crossroads Network(CN). Participation in the Crossroads Network builds relationships with others on campus who possess a strong interest in the promotion of an open and inclusive campus environment. “Crossroads is simply a place where students, faculty and staff meet to discuss their efforts to promote a culturally rich and diverse campus community through collaboration and information-sharing”, says Herrin. She notes that these exchanges lead to such events as African-American Heritage Month in February and Latino Heritage Month in October. CN informs its participants of activities on campus that provide enriching cultural experiences that lead to education, awareness and appreciation for the wealth of diversity and differences among us. It provides the opportunity to share with members from various constituencies across the University community, including colleges, schools, organizations and programs that have an interest in the planning and sponsorship of various cultural heritage events on campus.


“Our CN involvement gives us the opportunity to share with other Crossroads participants about the School of Social Work’s efforts to maintain a culturally diverse environment,” Herrin said. Simon Promotes Civic Responsibility in Diversity Affairs Dr. Cassandra Simon, associate professor of social work, effectively uses her role as an adviser of the SWACA as an opportunity to work with students on issues of diversity and social justice that are relevant to them both on- and off-campus. Through their participation in SWACA, students develop skills and knowledge related to promoting diversity and being agents of change. In fall 2011, SWACA organized a peaceful march to draw campus-wide attention to preventing incidents of intolerance and discrimination. The march, called “Not an Isolated Incident,” referred to the fact that although some instances of intolerance on campus have received considerable publicity, other incidents occur which are not so highly publicized. Several hundred people participated in the march, representing a variety of minorities on campus. Following the march, SWACA members met with UA’s provost and president to discuss their concerns and experiences. SWACA also hosted a forum on inclusiveness at which ideas were shared about what steps could be taken to combat incidents of intolerance on campus. “It is exciting and fulfilling to see the students grow, develop, and find their own voices as they promote full inclusion of all in society,” she said. “I am proud of them and their contributions to and representation of the School of Social Work.”

Simon is also the editor for the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, published through the UA Office of Community Affairs, which provides her another opportunity to engage students in civic responsibility and demonstrate its relevance to social work education, research, and practice. She believes that the social work profession is a perfect fit for authentic community engagement, which has become tremendously important in higher education in the past decade. “Social work represents a field where faculty, students and community members work together as equal partners to address societal and community concerns and the evaluation of social change efforts,” she said. Simon said she appreciates the many ways that her various roles in the school and other areas of the University allow her to work with students and influence issues of diversity and social justice on campus, local, national and international levels. “Social work educators must not only teach the values, skills and knowledge related to addressing diversity and social justice, but also model for students the varied ways to give attention to these issues,” she said.

Dr. Cassandra Simon

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Colloquium Series The 2011-2012 School of Social Work Colloquium Series brought these distinguished speakers to campus to discuss current topics in the field of social work:

Dr. Larry Davis

Dr. Tammy Peacock

Commissioner Zelia Baugh

Dr. Harriett Means

Julia Sosa

Nov. 7, 2011 Dr. John Brekke, Frances Larson professor of social work research and associate dean of research, School of Social Work, University of Southern California Los Angeles “Building, Testing, and Refining Community-Based Interventions for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness” Spring 2012 Colloquium Series

Dr. John Brekke

Dr. Keita Franklin

Fall 2011 Colloquium Series Sept. 19, 2011 Dr. Zelia Baugh, Alabama Department of Mental Health commissioner Dr. Tammy Peacock, ADMH associate commissioner “New Directions at the Alabama Department of Mental Health” Oct. 3, 2011 Julia Sosa, MS, RD, Alabama Department of Public Health, Office of Minority Health, assistant director “Working with Latino Families” – Sponsored by the UA School of Social Work Board of Friends

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The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

Jan. 30, 2012 Dr. Keita Franklin, LCSW, Marine and Family Programs, HQ US Marine Corps, Behavioral Health, branch head “Behavioral Health Issues and Needs of Active Duty Military members and their Families” Feb. 10, 2012 Ethel H. Hall African-American Heritage Month Celebration Dr. Larry Davis, dean and Donald M. Henderson professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work “A History of Racial Inequality: A Social Work Response” Sponsored by: The University of Alabama School of Social Work Board of Friends March 5, 2012 Dr. Harriett Means, associate professor, Troy University College of Health and Human Services “How Women Shaped Southern Rural Social Settlements During the 19th Century”


Retired Staff Member Honored

Gerontological

Society Scholarship

Honors Retired

Staff Member

Margaret S. Odom, retired School of Social Work administrative assistant, was recently honored by a new Alabama Gerontological Society scholarship that will be offered in her name. The Margaret S. Odom Scholarship, which will be given to a social work student who has a demonstrated interest in the field of gerontology, was established by the AGS board in honor of Odom’s 30 years of outstanding service. Odom co-founded AGS and served as its president during critical moments in its history in the mid1980s. “I am overwhelmed by the scholarship and the generosity of so many,” said Odom, who is affectionately known by many as “Mama O.” The Alabama Gerontological Society is a nonprofit membership organization devoted to improving the well-being of older persons throughout Alabama.

“I am overwhelmed by the scholarship and the generosity of so many,” said Odom, who is affectionately known by many as “Mama O.”

OutReach • Spring 2012

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Student Spotlights

Spotlight on Students: DESERVING STUDENTS HONORED AS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

M “These were worthwhile experiences and I’ve decided that I want to work in an area where I can make a difference in the lives of others.”

– Megan BENDIG

“I understand and appreciate the value of hard work to reach my goals. With the help of the Lori Kaye Hebert Scholarship, I will reach and go beyond my goals.”

– DeAndre Spencer

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The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

egan Bendig of Birmingham is one of this year’s recipients of the Hill Crest Foundation Endowed Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1989 from gifts donated by the Hill Crest Foundation of Mountain Brook, AL, to support the School of Social Work’s efforts to prepare students for practice in the field of mental health. Scholarships are awarded annually to MSW students with strong interests in mental health careers. Bendig received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UAB in 2010. The internships she participated in during her studies sparked her devotion to developing a career helping those with mental health issues. During an internship at the Children’s Aid Society in Birmingham, she had hands-on experience working with foster families. She developed and conducted weekly skill groups for clients while engaging in individual client management and establishing daily communications protocol that resulted in a cohesive and integrated treatment approach. A second internship with the Magnolia Creek Treatment Center for Eating Disorders in Birmingham allowed Bendig the opportunity to observe and process individual treatment planning and execution and engage in research examining suicidal tendencies and self-harm in eating disorders. “These were worthwhile experiences and I’ve decided that I want to


work in an area where I can make a difference in the lives of others,” she said. “This is important to me.” A second-year MSW student, Bendig strives for academic excellence and was recently inducted into the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society. Her chosen concentration is adults and families. Specifically, she is focused on improving the quality of life for individuals with eating disorders, anxiety disorders, substance dependency or co-occurring disorders. DeAndre Spencer of Tuscaloosa is this year’s recipient of the Lori Kaye Hebert Scholarship, awarded to fulltime students who have a desire to help children and adults with mental and developmental disabilities. An MSW student, Spencer received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University in 2006. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Spencer spent four years working for Brewer Porch Children Center’s Community Autism Intervention Program (CAIP). He developed a passion for helping children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by teaching them independent living skills and preparing them to be guided into a public school setting. He also worked with children who had been removed from their public school settings and placed in a self-contained classroom for undergoing intensive interventions that prepared them to return to a lessrestrictive environment. These experiences compelled Spencer to seek a profession in the early intervention of children with ASD. “I want to pursue this area because autism is a developmental disability and it is important that the helping process for the child start as early as possible. I would also like to educate the family on different resources that would be

beneficial to the success of the child’s development,” he said. Spencer plans to use the expertise gained from the MSW program to aid in his efforts. A passionate advocate for children with autism, Spencer feels strongly that the MSW Program will equip him with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully advocate for these children and provide more effective interventions. “I understand and appreciate the value of hard work to reach my goals. With the help of the Lori Kaye Hebert Scholarship, I will reach and go beyond my goals.” said Spencer, who was recently inducted into the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and is presently pursuing a field placement as a clinician at CAIP.

Students Organize Advocacy Group Students in the UA School of Social Work have organized a campuswide effort to form a student group that will affiliate with Alabama Arise, a nonprofit coalition of 140 religious, community and civic groups who work on poverty issues by promoting state policies to improve the lives of lowincome individuals. “The purpose of the affiliated student group is to educate UA students about poverty issues and related social problems in Alabama,” said Megan Knauss, president of the new student organization. Knauss says the group will equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to improve the quality of life for disenfranchised populations of Alabama. The UA students will work directly with Alabama Arise to advo-

cate for policies that do not negatively or disproportionately affect vulnerable individuals within the state. “Members of Alabama Arise will become familiar with relevant policies and will actively participate in the democratic process, including legislative advocacy,” she said. The group is on its way to obtaining official status as a student chapter of Alabama Arise, whose slogan is “Rise up Against Poverty.” The UA student chapter of Alabama Arise is open to undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines. To find out how to get involved or for more information on upcoming events, current legislative news, an issues action agenda, policy-related newsletters and memoranda, please visit http://www.facebook.com/Alabama. Arise or contact Megan Knauss at mmknauss@crimson.ua.edu. Student chapter officers include Kimberly Burrow-vice president, Jennifer Allon-secretary, and Jilisa Milton-public relations representative.

OutReach • Spring 2012

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Advancement News

Deidra K. Perry

Lemeshia M. Agee

Thank you for your loyalty and commitment to the School of Social Work and our great university! We are proud of our partnerships, and the opportunity to work with donors who share our vision. As you connect with old and new friends through our alumni network, take time to read about our young alumna in this issue Lemeshia M. Agee. The Office of Social Work Advancement continues to work with our valued alumni and friends to enhance our educational programs and scholarship endowments. I encourage you to invest your time and talents in social work education and our outstanding students. Each gift, large or small, makes a difference. I invite you to be a part of our continued success!

Lemeshia M. Agee is the newest member of the Social Work Society Board for the School. She graduated from UAB in 2006 in Health Education/Social Work. Two years later, she received her MSW from UA with a focus on Children and Adolescents. She is currently employed by Behavioral Health Concepts as the Community Liaison Manager for the House of Avicenna (Geriatric Psychiatry) at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, where she has worked for nearly 2 years. For about 3 years, she has provided therapy to teens and their parents who have identified (court appointed and self admitted) anger management issues. Lemeshia is in the process of obtaining a Doctoral Degree in Public Health with a focus in Community Health Education from Walden University.

Sincerely, Deidra K. Perry Director of Advancement 205.348.0182 dkperry@sw.ua.edu

Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame Class of 2011 Selected Four distinguished social work professionals were recently inducted

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The University of Alabama • School of Social Work

into the Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame. The inductions were announced during a luncheon ceremony hosted by the UA Social Work Society. The Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame honors social workers in the areas of education/research and practice/ administration, retired or deceased, who are acclaimed by their peers and colleagues for their professional status and exemplary leadership, creativity, contribution to the knowledge base and practice of social work, and influence in the life of the community. The 2011 inductees, all retired, are: Dr. Susan G. Barfoot, Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System; Dr. Raymond O. Sumrall, associate professor emeritus in the UA School of Social Work and former director of the Youth Services Institute; James E. Ware, Dallas County Department of Human Resources (DHR); and Dr. Shelley Wyckoff, Alabama A&M University. Barfoot has dedicated her life to serving Alabama individuals, groups, families, communities and organizations. She was a pioneer in the promotion and development of social work practice in both rural and medical settings. She was also active in the passage of the Alabama social work licensure law. She spent years serving Alabama veterans, ensuring that they and their families received the care and service they needed. Sumrall devoted his 57-year social work career to improving the lives of troubled juveniles. His approach to exposing children in the juvenile justice system to clinical treatment programs that foster self-esteem, healing and personal growth has permanently changed the way juveniles are handled in Alabama’s state facilities. A life-long public servant, Ware served as a dedicated social worker for


39 years. During his nearly 25 years with DHR, Ware encouraged his staff to use innovative thinking in meeting the needs of clients. He is known for his emphasis on the importance of maintaining integrity and balancing his impeccable professionalism with a caring and empathetic spirit.

Dr. Susan G. Barfoot

James E. Ware

As a social work educator, Wyckoff devoted her career to training the next generation of social workers, ensuring the future of the profession. She spent much of her time outside the classroom advocating for vulnerable and oppressed populations, serving them through her compassionate scholarship.

School of Social Work Welcomes Back Retirees It is always a special occasion when the UA School of Social Work welcomes back the retired faculty and staff for a holiday luncheon. In December 2011, retirees and their guests enjoyed a buffet lunch and entertainment. They spent time renewing friendships and exchanging observations from their careers during the luncheon, which was also attended by current faculty and staff. “It’s always good to see all the retirees having fun and reminiscing about memories of their past working days,” said Dr. Lucinda Roff, dean of the UA School of Social Work.

Dr. Raymond O. Sumrall

Dr. Shelley Wyckoff

Top: professor emeritus Dr. Phillip Crunk, Dr. Karen Clements-Crunk, and Dr. Amy Traylor. Bottom: Retired staff member Carol Oswalt, professor emeritus Dr. Richard Crow, and staff member Mary Sella.

OutReach • Spring 2012

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Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Tuscaloosa, AL Permit #16

The University of Alabama School of Social Work Box 870314 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0314

OutReach • Spring 2012

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Outreach