Social work alumni gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn on Thursday, October 8, 2015 to celebrate the accomplishments of UND’s Social Work department, to gather around a delicious meal, and to receive training to advance their practice. The annual event provided regional social workers an opportunity to connect, share ideas, and learn about the research that has been conducted by UND’s Social Work faculty.
Dr. Carenlee Barkdull, Chair of the Social Work department, welcomed attendees to the event and shared her excitement for the new academic year. Dean Roux then gave her opening remarks and noted the importance of inter-professional practice between social workers and health care providers. She remarked that ¼ of all social workers in the United States work in the healthcare field, which is why it is critical that the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines gives students the opportunity for inter-professional education.
Next, Dr. Barkdull gave an overview of the many accomplishments of the Social Work Department in the past year. Last spring, the University required each department to write an annual report called the “SOAR report” which detailed the department’s accomplishments. Although the report compilation process was tedious, it brought to light the important work that the department is doing which includes; the department’s passion for training social workers, its support of rural social workers in oil-impacted communities, and its research on the prevention and support of those impacted by domestic violence.
The faculty have also been busy, as Dr. Barkdull reported that faculty were published in 19 peer reviewed publications during the 2013-2014 academic year! During the fall 2015 semester, the department launched a new online distance BSSW program which provides live evening classes for paraprofessional students at a distance. There are currently 19 students enrolled in the program, many of whom are already working in the field in rural areas and in tribal communities. The students will visit campus this summer for additional classes. The department is excited to welcome three new faculty members to the Social Work this fall; Barb Kitko, Dr. Yi-Ping Hsieh, and Todd Sage.
After hearing department updates, attendees had an opportunity to remember former Social Work faculty member, Dr. Myrna Haga. Dr. Haga served in the Social Work department for 42 years and almost every social worker in the state either knew her or took a class from her. Alumni shared their memories of Myrna which included her feistiness, her brown corduroy dress, the time she purchased a coffee pot for use during a weekend class, and the empathy and care that she always showed to students as well as furry creatures. Dr. Barkdull informed the attendees that Dr. Barb Cramer and Dr. Thomasine Heitkamp began an endowment in Myrna’s honor to support undergraduate student scholarships. To donate to the Myrna Haga Endowment, visit the UND Alumni Association Foundation website.
Finally, the annual Social Work Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Roberta (Bobbi) Carson, MSW LICSW, for her work with social services in Pembina County, particularly with children. Carson was presented with a beautiful piece of pottery which was created by Prairie Fire Pottery of Beach, ND. She and her husband plan to retire in the Minneapolis area close to their children and grandchildren.
Following lunch and fellowship, Roger Johnson, Assistant Professor, presented “Social Work Ethics Training” which was followed by Dr. Del Quest’s presentation “Suicide Prevention Training.” Attendees received continuing education units for attending these two presentations.
The Social Work department looks forward to hosting their Homecoming event next year and we hope that you will plan to attend!