It is with sincere gratitude that I share this message with you as we anticipate an exciting new year. I am grateful for the remarkable students, faculty, and staff here at UND, and for our incredible alumni, colleagues and friends throughout North Dakota, the region, and beyond. It has been a long-held dream of our department to launch an electronic newsletter, and, with support from our College home (the College of Nursing and Professional Disciplines), I am pleased that you are viewing the first of many electronic communications that we hope will keep us all better-connected in our fast-paced world. This issue features several stories of faculty, staff, and alumni successes, and I hope after reading the newsletter, you will be as proud of the UND Social Work Department as I am.
In September, 2015, we were saddened to hear of the passing of one of Social Work’s most beloved, faculty members, Dr. Myrna Haga. Myrna retired from UND in 2010 but left a lasting impact on the many students and faculty with whom she worked. Dr. Haga’s legacy lives on, as shared in reminiscences penned by her decades-long colleague and friend, Professor Thomasine Heitkamp. Attendees at our Homecoming event in October fondly recounted memories of Myrna, right down to her favorite comfy and casual brown corduroy dress. Do share with us if anyone finds the perfect look-alike to wear in her honor!
We are pleased to share that three years' work came to fruition in August under the able guidance of our BSSW Program Director, Dr. Melanie Sage, with the successful launch of our Distance BSSW Program. We can be justifiably proud of being one of the few social work programs to offer both a Distance BSSW Program (launched Fall Semester of 2015), and a Distance MSW Program (look for upcoming news on our acclaimed MSW Distance Program as we celebrate the completion of its first decade.) While many schools are leaping into distance delivery of social work education, we remain steadfast in delivering a program that brings students to live classes (via webcam) and to campus for intensive training and “face time” that is not mediated by computer technology. We appreciate the support of Dean Gayle Roux, Provost Tom DiLorenzo and recently-retired President Robert Kelley, as they have made it possible for us to offer this educational model to BSSW students throughout the state and region. We are especially excited about expanding partnerships with our state’s tribal colleges through this initiative, and will keep you abreast of developments. Lynette Krenelka and the staff in the Office of Extended Learning at UND deserve a special thank you for making the Distance BSSW program happen—they are the dream team for distance education!
This issue also spotlights recent recognition of alumni, students, and faculty. We know you will enjoy reading about this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award winner, Bobbi Carson, as well as a feature about Stephanie Ewers, an MSW student who was honored with a national award for her service in support of military spouses. Finally, many of you who are active with agencies right here in Grand Forks already know how engaged Dr. Andrew Quinn has been with helping nonprofits with research and evaluation activities. His work was recently recognized by the Center for Community Engagement.
The Children and Family Services Training Center (CFSTC) has been an integral part of our department for more than 30 years. The CFSTC trains and certifies all of our state’s child welfare workforce and our foster parents. See updates about the CFSTC in this newsletter as its dedicated and talented staff continue to meet the evolving needs of our growing state! Updates from our national award-winning social work clubs is something we hope will be a regular feature of the newsletter, and we hope that you will also read about last summer's Play Therapy Conference at UND (and consider attending the next one this summer).
You will see a decidedly international flavor in the story about our first intern to attempt and complete an international field placement as we strategically grow our department’s internationalization efforts. See recent MSW grad Marisa Gonzalez’s story inside, along with some beautiful and moving photos.
Finally, each issue of the UND Social Work Scoop will highlight faculty research and scholarship. North Dakota is the first state to conduct a statewide audit of the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Dr. Melanie Sage is in the state and national spotlight as a result of this important work.
Stay tuned for plans to celebrate Social Work Month together in March!
Warm regards, Carenlee Carenlee Barkdull, Chair & Associate Professor