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April 25, 2018

Grants to Faculty and Students Kick-off Five-Year Social Justice Innovation Initiative

Image of Dr. Shandra Forrest-Bank and MSSW student, Daris UptonA fund was established in 2017 by long-time College of Social Work supporter, Susan Cooper. Her vision is stimulating a college-wide conversation surrounding social justice issues through rigorous research, public outreach, and innovative education. The Social Justice Innovation Initiative (SJII) offers a unique framework for understanding many of society's most pressing issues and then developing avenues for addressing these issues. "I'm so grateful that we are able to offer this opportunity to the members of the CSW community. I truly believe that every aspect of the grant process is a learning experience in itself," stated Tony Murchison, special projects manager, who is overseeing the initiative.

Four groups have been awarded grants for the development of these ideas for challenging racism. The topics are:

  • Challenge racism by promoting voting among Knoxville's young adults of color. This faculty/student group will partner with SEEED Knoxville and the League of Women Voters with the goal to understand motivation, overcome barriers, and increase civic engagement among racial and ethnic minority young adults in Knoxville. Primary project leaders are: Shandra Forrest-Bank, faculty and Darris Upton, student. (Pictured above)
  • Challenge racism through the development of a black social workers' alliance. This group will partner with the Network for Social Work Management with the goal to increase diversity within the college and develop much needed relationships with social workers of color in the Nashville community by cultivating and supporting a black social worker's alliance. Primary project leaders are: Carmen Foster, Kate M. Chaffin, and Kim Crane-Mallory, faculty.
  • Challenge racism through a Cumberland Garden Community initiative. Partnering with Cumberland Gardens Neighborhood and the McGruder Family Resource Center, this group will challenge racism by elevating the visibility of African American art and culture in Nashville. Primary project leaders are: Kate Patterson, student, and Stacia West, faculty.
  • Challenge racism through encouraging bystander intervention. This group will partner with the Theatre of the Oppressed, NYC, and NASW with the goal of teaching people how to safely and effectively addressing instances of racism and spreading the message of challenging racism to all the CSW programs. Primary project leaders are: Diane Smith and Charlotte Matthews, students, and Robert Mindrup, faculty.

Each of these projects will begin in 2018 and will be concluded by 2019. Projects will be evaluated at mid-term and conclusion and will be studied for possible replication.


Chancellor's Award Winners from the College of Social Work

Image of Shaun McComas with Chancellor DavenportShaun McComas received a Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service Award at the Chancellor's Honors Banquet recognizing graduating students who are extraordinary campus leaders for their significant service to others. Read more from the Chancellor's site.

Image of Amber Hale with Chancellor DavenportAmber Hale received the Gene Mitchell Gray Pioneer Award recognizes a student or group for promoting cultural diversity and enrichment on campus at the Chancellor's Honors Banquet. Read more from the Chancellor's site.

Assistant Professor Dr. Stacia West Evaluates Success of My People Fund

Image of Dr. Stacia West and some date from her reportThe Dollywood Foundation has released the final report prepared by UT College of Social Work faculty member Stacia West entitled, "My People Fund Evaluation."

In the aftermath of the November 2016 wildfires that destroyed 1,300 homes and left the community of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in emotional and economic crisis, the Dollywood Foundation launched the My People Fund to help. The fund provided families who had lost their homes with $1,000 a month for six months and a final gift of $5,000 in May 2017. Dr. West studied the overall impact of that relief effort and looked at how the population affected by the fires are faring after a year and a half.

Dr. West's research has also inspired a short documentary on universal basic income:

Read more from the University's announcement about this report.


April 12, 2018

Interim CSW Dean David R. Dupper Presents Henry Award to NASW TN Director Karen Franklin; Former College Dean Karen M. Sowers Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from TCSW.

Image of Interim Dean David Dupper, Karen Franklin, and former dean Karen Sowers at TCSWThe Senator Douglas Henry Award for Service to Children and Families at Risk was established by the University of Tennessee College of Social Work in 2008 to honor individuals whose work reflects the values and dedication of the late Senator Henry. Senator Henry was a tireless champion for the children and families of Tennessee. He has been called "the patron saint of social workers" because of his advocacy for the social work profession.

The 2018 Senator Douglas Henry Award was presented to Karen Franklin, Director of the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Throughout her career, Karen Franklin has worked to improve the lives of people at risk. She has served as Volunteer Services Director for the YWCA Shelter and Domestic Violence Program, Director of the Tennessee Nonprofit Association of the Council of Community Services, and Assistant Director of TCSW. She has been with Tennessee NASW since 2002.

Karen M. Sowers, PhD and Dean Emerita of the College, received the Linda Christie and William F. Moynihan Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare. The award honors a social worker whose life and work on behalf of others is exemplary, and contributes significantly to the well-being of Tennesseans.

Sowers was appointed the Beaman Professor and Dean of the College of Social Work in 1997 and retired from that position after twenty years in 2017. She served as Director of the School of Social Work at Florida International University from 1994 to 1997 and as Undergraduate Program Director there from 1986 to 1994. She received her her Baccalaureate degree in sociology from the University of Southern Florida in 1974, the Master's degree in social work from Florida State University in 1977, and the PhD in social work from FSU in 1986.

Dr. Sowers has served on numerous local, national, and international boards. She is the recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award from FSU and the Mental Health of America's 2016 George Goodman and Ruth P. Brudney Social Work Award.

College Alumna Dr. Sarah Buchanan Leads at Community Law Office

Image of latest ranking for College"We do what we can do to help our clients move forward, get out of the legal system so they don't come back, get back into the community, and change their lives for the better," says Sarah Buchanan ('10, '17), Director of Social Services at the Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office (CLO).

Many members of the CLO's staff, as well as interns and externs, come from UT. Alumni account for the majority of the office's public defenders, and all the social workers have degrees from UT. More than 50 UT social work students have completed field placements at the CLO since 2005.

See the UT feature story at for more about the work at CLO and our alumni.

BSWO "Glow Up for Mental Health" Event a Success

Sissie Hadjiharalambous Presents ACEs DataThe Bachelor of Social Work Organization (BSWO) sponsored a successful event in support of mental health. The event included representatives from Knoxville mental health agencies, the UTK Counseling Center, HABIT dogs, a mindfulness session, a guest speaker from the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (who discussed the importance of suicide prevention and mental health awareness), and an advocacy walk.

View some photos from the event courtesy of Rayna Erasmus and Gina Middleton.

Students Attend Social Work Day at the UN

Image of College of Social Work students at the United NationsTwenty-two undergraduate and masters social work students from the Knoxville campus joined with 700 social workers from around the world and attended the Social Work Day at the United Nations in New York City on March 26, 2018. The group was led by the Knoxville campus' Macro Social Work Student Network executive board members Rosie Cross, Sarah Lepp, Amanda McClellan, and Marc Sloan.

For 35 years students, practitioners, and educators have been convening at the UN to learn more about the UN agenda, innovative projects and issues related to international social work and the critical role social work plays in the international arena. This year speakers highlighted sustainable development goals that may relate to social work practice. The U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) are the driving force behind policies and programs the UN is responsible for negotiating among its member states. Goal 13 is Climate Action, and this year's event focused on climate change, migration, and ways for social work practice at all levels to include a climate change focus.

Students reported that highlights were hearing presentations from: His Excellency Ambassador Teburoro Tito, (Permanent Representative of Kiribati to the United Nations) and Mark Chambers (Director of Mayor Bill de Blasio'sOffice of Sustainability in New York, NY). Additionally, Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, an expert in migration, environment & climate, clarified that the term climate refugee has no official status. But rather, experts are using the term climate migration to describe people who have to move internally or externally because of slow effects of climate change or sudden effects of large climate change events (storms, etc). This clarity of definition provides a base for practitioners at all levels of practice to better understand the populations they are serving.

Notably, the article titled Social Work Research and Global Environmental Change, written by University of Tennessee Knoxville's Lisa Reyes Mason, Mary Katherine Shires, Catherine Arwood, and Abigail Borst was promoted as a resource at the event.

March 28, 2018

College of Social Work Ranked 25th Among All Public Universities

Image of latest ranking for CollegeSeveral colleges and programs of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville earned recognition from U.S. News & World Report in its 2019 graduate school rankings, which were released March 20. Three of UT�s academic colleges are now ranked in the top 30 among public institutions - including the College of Social Work. The College is now ranked 25th among all public universities.

College Interim Dean Dr. Dave Dupper is proud of this achievement, saying, "Our college has recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and will soon celebrate the 10th anniversary of the MSSW online program. Since 1942 we have been providing top notch education for social work leaders in the state of Tennessee. Being recognized by US News and World Report in the graduate school rankings shines a spotlight on the excellence of our faculty and programs in academic achievement, research, and community service."

Of the ranking success of a number of UT's academic colleges, Chancellor Beverly Davenport stated, "Today's news affirms what our students have known for a long time: they are getting a world-class education here in Knoxville. Our strong graduate programs are a cornerstone of our mission here at UT and provide students in all areas of study with opportunities to participate in remarkable research and learn from some of the country's best faculty."

Read more at:

Sissie Hadjiharalambous of SWORPS Presents ACEs

Sissie Hadjiharalambous Presents ACEs DataLinda Daugherty, Sissie Hadjiharalambous, and Emily McCutcheon presented findings from UT SWORPS’ evaluation of Tennessee’s Building Strong Brains Initiative at the 31st Annual Research & Policy Conference on Child, Adolescent, and Young Adult Behavioral Health (March 5-7, 2018; Tampa, FL).

Building Strong Brains is a statewide public-private partnership that aims to promote cultural change in early childhood based on a philosophy that prevents and mitigates Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The session, entitled “Changing the Culture in Tennessee: Promoting ACEs Philosophy and Transforming Organizations”, highlighted early accomplishments and challenges of this 3-year statewide initiative.

Funding for this project was provided by the ACE Awareness Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee and the UT College of Social Work.

Ashlie Seibers Receives 2018 BSW Student of the Year Award from NASW TN

Ashlie Seibers with Karen FranklinCongratulations to Ashlie Seibers who was selected by the National Association of Social Workers, Tennessee Chapter, to receive their 2018 BSW Student of the Year Award. The award was presented at Social Work Day on the Hill, in Nashville on Wed., March 20, by Karen Franklin, Executive Director of NASW's Tennessee Chapter.

Ms. Seibers is a senior honors student at UT Knoxville. She is an extremely gifted social work student who is very intelligent and highly motivated. Faculty and staff who nominated Ashlie stated, "She is a natural and effective leader... Her motivation and commitment to social work ethics and values are evident in her field practicum and volunteer service work.. She is a very talented student who offers her service to the community and university." Her service to the college includes serving as Advocacy Chair for the Bachelor of Social Work Organization, as a CSW Student Ambassador, and as the CSW Tranfer Mentoring Coordinator.

Ms. Seibers co-founded the UT Advocates for Social Change Organization, a student led advocacy group that fights for oppressed populations, seeking to educate others on political news and ways to become politically engaged.

Upon receiving the award, Seibers stated, "Thank you so much to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville College of Social Work for nominating me for this award, the NASW and Karen Franklin for everything that you do for our profession, and lastly every single leader, champion, and advocate that is sitting in this room. I honestly believe if anyone can change the world, it'll be us, Social Workers."

The College of Social Work is extremely proud of Ashlie for her energy as a student and leader on the Knoxville Campus of UT. As the awards committee stated, we are "impressed by your accomplishments and the positive influence you have on classmates for the profession."

Nashville MSSW Students Policy Poster Competition

2018 Policy Poster Winners Kaylie Passen, Kylan Hadley, Anna Arts, and Jillian BalserThe Nashville MSSW program won the Social Work Day on the Hill Policy Poster competition on March 20. Kaylie Passen, Kylan Hadley, Anna Arts, and Jillian Balser presented "HB1460/SB1626 Recovery High Schools."

Their presentation addresses SB 1626/ HB 1460 and looks at the framework for local education agencies to create recovery high schools across Tennessee where students can seek rehabilitative services while continuing high school.

One of the presenters, Jillian Balser, explained, "As our state continues to battle the opioid crisis, this bill allows for local education agencies to create recovery high schools, a place for adolescents to seek rehabilitative services while continuing their high school education. This policy supports the 2018 NASW-TN Legislative Priorities of Supporting Available and Appropriate Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Services and advances the NASW core values in three ways:

  1. Funds access to treatment through per pupil expenditure funding, thereby increasing the access to services for vulnerable populations
  2. Reduces the stigma of substance use disorders by allowing students to receive a diploma from their zoned high school.
  3. Recognizes the dignity and worth of adolescents by providing a supportive community of peers."

Dr. Stacia West, the Nashville faculty sponsor for this presentation said, "This group of outstanding students demonstrate a steadfast commitment to upholding our ethical responsibility of social and political action. Not only did these students spend countless hours preparing for the policy competition, they also built rapport with legislators, attended committee hearings, and provided information to our TN legislators that ultimately moved the Recovery High School bill from committee to Governor Haslam's desk. With ongoing political and economic attacks against our most vulnerable communities, we look to these students to inspire us and remind us of the power of social work in action."

Congratulations to these students and the faculty at the Nashville campus who teach the policy courses and make this kind of excellence possible!

Dr. Thereasa Abrams Appointed to National Burn Registry Advisory Committee

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Strand and UT President, Dr. Joe DiPietroDr. Thereasa Abrams, Assistant Professor at the Nashville Campus of the College, has been appointed to the National Burn Registry (NBR) Advisory Committee of the American Burn Association (ABA) for a three year term.

Dr. Steven E. Wolf, the Association president, commented, "I am confident that the ABA and its membership will benefit from your participation and contribution to this important committee."

The NBR is a data bank for demographics reported by burn centers throughout North America. The data bank is available for IRB approved research.

Dr. Abrams will be attending the April national conference where she will have a poster representing a research project conducted by Abrams and Dr. William Nugent. Dr. Abrams stated, "I am so very honored to be able to serve on this committee and look forward to learning from more knowledgeable professionals who's motivation is to learn more about the common threads associated with burn injury."

With more than 2,000 members worldwide, the American Burn Association dedicates its efforts and resources to promoting and supporting burn-related care, prevention, education, and research. The association's multidisciplinary membership enhances its ability to work toward common goals with other organizations and educational programs.

Dr. Michael Mason Reviews for JAMA Pediatrics on Opioid Crisis

Photo of Dr. Michael MasonDr. Michael Mason, Betsey R. Bush Endowed Professor in Children & Families at Risk at the College of Social Work Center for Behavioral Health Research wrote a featured editorial for the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics (March 12, 2018). JAMA Pediatrics � The Science of Child and Adolescent Health is an international journal that is part of the Journal of the American Medical Association Network.

Mason's editorial is entitled "Association of Psychiatric Comorbidity with Opioid Prescriptions and Long-term Opioid Therapy Among US Adolescents." Read the article here.

In his article, Dr. Mason stated, "Opioid use, opioid misuse, and long-term opioid therapy (LTOT) have captured the nation's attention, raising questions regarding pain management and concerns about who is most at risk for the use of nonmedical prescribed opioids." He explains that the importance of studies such as the one he is considering are important because adolescents who are given opiods during sanctioned medical treatment are at risk of transitioning to substance abuse. He explained that, "Preventing this transition is critical because nearly 80% of adolescents who reported using heroin indicated their NMPO use preceded their heroin use."

March 8, 2018

Dr. Elizabeth Strand, Director of Veterinary Social Work, Recognized with President's Connect Award

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Strand and UT President, Dr. Joe DiPietroDr. Elizabeth Strand and three other UT professionals have been recognized as 2018 President's Award honorees. The President's Awards program recognizes outstanding contributions of staff and faculty in the areas of the University of Tennessee's three-fold mission to provide education, conduct research, and to offer outreach. Simply put, the program is the highest honor a UT employee can receive and is intended to spotlight success and inspire excellence.

Dr. Strand received the "Connect" award that honors outreach, engagement, and service efforts and programs.

Elizabeth Strand, director of veterinary social work and clinical associate professor of biomedical and diagnostic sciences at UT Knoxville, is a pioneer in her field of study and works to educate veterinary professionals nationwide.

Strand developed "veterinary social work" and is the founding director of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine's veterinary social work program, which is the first of its kind in the world. Her initial discipline vision went from the creation of programs focused on client grief and the importance of human-animal bond to include comprehensive veterinary social work services and related education.

Dr. Strand is an Associate Professor with a joint faculty appointment in the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine (CVM, 75%) and Social Work (CSW, 25%). She is licensed for clinical social work with extensive credentials beyond her PhD including certification in grief recovery, critical incident stress management, mindfulness-based stress reduction training, Anicare child and adult training, workplace conflict, suicide prevention, and state Supreme Court mediation. She came to UT with "real-life" clinical experience in family and juvenile social work. In recognition of her professional innovation and accomplishments, Dr. Strand was inducted as a Distinguished Scholar and Fellow in the National Academies of Practice and the Social Work Academy in 2014. Then, in 2015, she was named the inaugural UT "All Creatures Great and Small" endowed Professor of Veterinary Social Work, created by CSW donors who recognized the profound benefits VSW provides in support of animal care providers and owners.

Read More About the President's Awards

College of Social Work Announces Plans for Social Justice Innovation Initiative

Stop Racisim graphicThe UT College of Social Work is pleased to announce plans for year one of the Social Justice Innovation Initiative (SJII). David Dupper, Interim Dean at the College explained, "One of the core values of our profession is a commitment to social justice. I am very excited about this initiative and the opportunities it will provide to our faculty and students to work together in pursuit of our shared vision as social workers—We envision a socially just world that prioritizes the needs of the most vulnerable. This initiative is a funded effort to address various aspects of social justice in our society. The 2018 focus is challenging the problem of racism."

The college has worked diligently to develop an outreach that will positively affect our community in a manner that is in keeping with the mission and principles of the social work profession. The opportunity that has been made available this year is the distribution of grant money to groups of students, faculty, and staff for creative proposed projects designed to address racism in our college (Knoxville and Nashville), on our campuses, and in our broader local communities.

Tony Murchison, Special Projects Manager, who is guiding this initiative stated, "I'm so grateful that we are able to offer this opportunity to the members of the CSW community. I truly believe that every aspect of the grant process is a learning experience in itself. I've had discussions with folks and we've agreed that even if their proposal isn't among those accepted and funded, nothing was lost. Imagining a project, choosing a team, selecting a faculty advisor, networking with community organizations, and ultimately writing a grant proposal � are invaluable experiences for students to have."

The project participants who will be funded through this grant will represent the Knoxville and Nashville campus communities and are from DSW, MSSW, MSSW Online, and BSSW programs.

Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason Participates in National Weather Service Discussions

Photo of Dr. Lisa Reyes MasonIn February, the National Weather Service in Nashville hosted a media workshop, an annual event that provides a forum for discussion about how the Weather Service and the media can work together to communicate with the public. Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason, a social scientist from the College of Social Work and Dr. Kelsey Ellis, a climatologist from the UT Geography Department of the College of Arts & Sciences were invited to participate in this annual meeting.

They are studying how the public receives and responds to severe weather watches and warnings. They had some interesting findings to report. "The media and the weather service," said Dr. Mason, "are interested in our research results and on working with us to find real ways of communicating in order to keep Tennesseans safe during times of severe weather. At the Nashville meeting they were ready to discuss what can be done to effectively protect the public in the event of nighttime tornadoes."

"Research has found that Tennessee has a higher chance of experiencing tornado warnings at night than a lot of parts of the country," explained Dr. Mason. "One of our big takeaways is that people are a lot less likely to receive warnings at night as they are during the day. During our meeting we discussed simple solutions that can be implemented through effective planning and early warnings by the media such as announcing the possibility of extreme weather and encouraging people to charge their cell phones and keep them at their bedsides throughout the night. Our discussion was rich and these kinds of interactions make our research feel even more worthwhile."


Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason received her PhD and MSW from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and her BA from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines social vulnerability and adaptation to problems at the nexus of society and the environment such as climate change, water security, urban pollution, and severe weather.

Dr. Mason and Dr. Ellis have been invited to participate in two additional collaborative meetings that are being hosted by the National Weather Service with media representatives and other partners. The first of these meetings is on March 21 in Memphis, then on April 4 in Knoxville.

Social Work Students on Knoxville Campus Learn about Transitioning to Professional Practice

Photo of Social Work StudentsAt a breakfast event on March 2, honoring BSSW and MSSW students who will graduate this spring, a panel of professionals reviewed some important ideas for transitioning from the student world to the world of professional practice.

The event that took place on the Knoxville Campus in the Panhellenic Building was cosponsored by the College of Social Work, the Knoxville Branch of NASW, and Cornerstone of Recovery. The program featured a panel that discussed job search, licensure, and job opportunities in specific fields of social work practice (veterans, substance abuse, schools, forensic, child welfare, etc.) Presenters included social workers from the community, including many of our own graduates, the NASW Executive Director of the Tennessee Chapter, and UT Office of Career Development.


February 22, 2018

Associate Dean (Research) Nugent and DSW Alumna Milam Honored for Research on Child Abuse

Photo of Dr. William Nugent and Lisa MilamUT College of Social Work's Associate Dean for Research William Nugent and DSW Alumna Lisa Milam had an article published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. The article entitled Children's Knowledge of Genital Anatomy and Its Relationship with Children's Use of the Word Inside During Questioning about Possible Sexual Abuse is based on the research that was the culmination of her 2014 DSW Capstone research project during her doctoral studies at UT.

The article and research was recognized at The Chadwick Center's 2018 Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, one of the most important conferences in the field of child abuse.

Bill Nugent, PhD, is Associate Dean for Research, Professor, and Interim Director of the PhD Program at the UT College of Social Work. His research interests include: measurement issues in meta-analysis, meta-analysis measurement, and suicide risk assessment methods. Lisa Milam, MA, DSW, LCSW, has been employed as a social worker at Our Kids Center in Nashville for over 24 years. She earned her Master's degree in counseling from Trevecca, and her Master's and Doctoral degrees in Social Work from the UT College of Social Work.

Interim Dean David Dupper Encourages Parents to Listen to their Children in Light of School Shootings

Photo of Andrea JosephCollege of Social Work Interim Dean David Dupper shared his expertise in school social work with Channel 8 WVLT and the Knox News Sentinel in response to the Parkland, Florida shootings. The key, he states, is listening.

David Dupper answered questions about how to approach interactions with children in the aftermath of traumatic events. "Creating a space for them to talk to a trusted parent or adult who will listen is important," he said. "I think the major issue for me is to try to as a parent go into speaking to your kid and be prepared to hear whatever your child has to say, but sometimes that's difficult because sometimes they say things that are unexpected," he said.

"It (can be) highly emotional, that's one of the big issues, I think," he said. "You just don't know how it can impact children in different ways, especially in middle and high school." Dupper said parents should be sensitive to the environment their kids are growing up in and realize how scary it could be.

Student Ambassadors Welcome Newly Admitted Students

Photo of Student AmbassadorsCollege of Social Work Ambassadors work with Student Recruitment Director, Susan Bryant, writing letters of welcome to newly admitted students (incoming freshman in August) at the College. These social work students are part of the UT student ambassadors program. The ambassadors are the principal student liaisons for prospective students and their parents visiting the UT campus. These students play an integral role by aiding in the recruitment of the best and brightest future Vols. The ambassadors lead daily campus tours for visiting families and provide them with a student's perspective of what it's like to be a "Volunteer" at the University of Tennessee. (Picture above from left to right: Mackenzie Hunter, Susan Bryant, and Shelby DeLille)

The College of Social Work is grateful for all of work of the ambassadors as we try to roll out the orange carpet for our newest potential students.

Photo of Student AmbassadorsPictured: Marquita Dortch, Amber Hale, Ezekiel Harris, and Chelsea Stephens (left to right)

February 8, 2018

College of Social Work Welcomes New Faculty

The College of Social Work is pleased to announce the appointment of two new faculty members who will join us in August 2018:

Andrea A. Joseph

Photo of Andrea JosephAndrea Joseph expects to receive her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work in May 2018. Her dissertation is titled, Restorative justice and the discipline gap: Exploring the impact of restorative practices on racially disproportional school discipline.

She was awarded a Fulbright Student Post-Graduate Award to attend the University of London Institute of Education in 2013 where she earned an MA in Social Justice and Education in 2014. She also received a Pittsburgh Albert E. Schweitzer Fellowship Award in 2015.?

She has post-MSW practice experience with the Pittsburgh public schools, as well as the Anti-Defamation League of Hamden, CT, where she was an Assistant Project Director. Her research interest is restorative justice and racial disparities. She recently had two presentations at the 2017 CSWE conference, one titled, Alternatives to out-of-school suspensions: A multi-tiered and race-centered perspective, and the second, Doctoral education: Professional socialization through participation with academic journals. Her emphasis on social justice is especially noteworthy as the College is endeavoring to develop a stronger social justice emphasis.

Stephen V. McGarity

Photo of Stephen McGarityStephen McGarity expects to receive his PhD in Social Work in May of 2018 from The University of Georgia. He has post-MSW practice experience as a case coordinator as well as a senior support coordinator with Georgia Options, in Athens, GA.

His research interests are poverty, homelessness, disability, and financial capabilities of individuals with disabilities. His dissertation is titled, Financial Capabilities and Asset-Building Among People with Disabilities: Implications for Practice and Policy. He recently presented at the 2017 SSWR conference, a presentation titled, Factors related to the banking status of low-income individuals with disabilities: Findings from the 2015 National Financial Capability Study.

He has served as PI on two grants, one a community outreach grant and the other a shelter program grant. In addition, he has taught BSW integrative seminar courses, a BSW level course on Diversity, and has served as a field liaison.


Dr. Camille Hall Publishes Three New Articles

Photo of Dr. Camille HallJ. Camille Hall, Associate Professor at the College, has spent her career teaching students the importance of addressing racial and social injustices, dismantling inequality and unfair practices, and valuing diversity of the population. A PhD graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts, Dr. Hall points out that Smith College is known for its emphasis on social justice and its college-wide antiracism commitment. In that spirit, she has worked, since coming to UT in 2004, to help students foster respect for diverse worldviews and stand against systems of privilege, inequality, and oppression.

This year, Dr. Hall is looking forward to the publication of three important articles that reflect on black women, stress, and resilience. All are currently in press. Hall is primary author of "Black women?s? experiences of colorist microaggressions," to be published in Social Work in Mental Health. She is sole author of "It?s tough being a Black woman: Intergenerational stress and coping," in theJournal of Black Studies. She is second author of "Post-conflict resettlement: Risk and protective factors and resilience among women in northern Uganda," in International Social Work.

"My research and course instruction" states Dr. Hall, "focuses on preparing culturally competent social workers who are equipped to help individuals achieve equal opportunity and justice."

Read more about Dr. Hall's work and her being named as one of 75 Honorees for advancing the Grand Challenges for Social Work.


Kim Mallory Chosen to Serve on TDCS Children's Advisory Council

Photo of Kim Mallory

Tennessee Department of Children?s Services (TDCS), Children?s Advisory Council has asked Assistant Professor of Practice Kim Mallory to serve on the council.

The Council serves in an advisory capacity to TDCS Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich. It brings together individuals in leadership capacities with state and local governments as well as community leaders to help the Department better serve the children, youth and families of Tennessee.

In asking Kim Mallory to continue serving, Commissioner Hommrich stated, "It is an honor to have your participation on the council as the Department of Children's Services moves forward in its mission to protect children, develop youth, strengthen families and build safe communities for our families in Tennessee. I want to thank you [for] committing your time and expertise to our Department."

Congratulations to our colleague, Kim Mallory!

Eight BSSW Students Honored at Senior Toast Dinner

Photo of BSSW Students at Senior Toast DinnerCSW Senior Students at Neyland Stadium for Senior Toast event.(l-r): Cole Hoffman, Ruth Hagler, Rayna Erasmus, Emily Williams, Amber Hale, and Abbey Geater.

Not Pictured: Ashlie Seibers and Olivia Seay.


February 2, 2018

Dr. Ashley Blamey Named UT System Title IX Coordinator

Photo of Dr. Ashley BlameyAshley Blamey, College of Social Work DSW program alumna and Title IX Coordinator for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will take on the same responsibilities for UT System Administration in a dual role.

UT President Joe DiPietro stated, "We made a commitment to having a program that is the gold standard, nationally, and that requires a shared vision across the campuses. Ashley has made UT Knoxville a leader in the field, and her serving in both roles enables her to implement best practices system-wide."

The College of Social Work is proud of the work that Ashley Blamey does at the University. Dr. Ashley Blamey is a 2014 graduate of the College of Social Work DSW program. She served as the Director of the UT Center for Health, Education, and Wellness prior to becoming the UTK Title IX Coordinator.

Read more


January 25, 2018

Dr. Shandra Forrest-Bank Addresses Haslam Scholars

Photo of Dr. Shandra Forres-Bank The Haslam Scholars Program at the University of Tennessee is a unique, in-depth academic enrichment program with goals to develop civically engaged scholars by promoting the pursuit of knowledge, research, and community leadership. One of the components of the program is the Haslam Scholars Program Friday Faculty Lecture Series, which is designed to bring UT faculty scholars and their research to this group of young scholars. Students gain knowledge and awareness through this series and by participating in academic discourse with UT's faculty.

On Friday, January 26, the College of Social Work's Dr. Shandra Forrest-Bank will present "Promoting Positive Development in Vulnerable Youth" to the Haslam Honors and Scholars students. Dr. Forrest-Bank explains that research applying a risk and resilience framework has led to a substantial body of knowledge identifying risk factors that predict behavioral health problems in adolescents and protective factors that promote resilience despite risk exposure. Youth advocates have argued against this framework for defining youth by their "at-risk" status and tend to favor an asset, or strength-based lens such as Positive Youth Development (PYD). The PYD framework views all youth for their emergent potential and focuses on providing opportunities and caring adult relationships that foster characteristics associated with positive behavioral and emotional outcomes.

Dr. Forrest-Bank further points out that both areas of scholarship have been criticized for not adequately addressing racial/ethnic disparities. Her presentation objectives will be supported by her own research and scholarship on these topics. She will provide an overview of the risk and resilience and PYD frameworks and argue for their integration. Additionally, she will discuss the importance of recognizing racial/ethnic discrimination in its many forms as a risk factor, and the role of ethnic identity in promoting resilience and positive development.

The students will be encouraged to consider how these frameworks inform their own perceptions and involvement with vulnerable youth.

Dr. Ragan Schriver Presents at the Gulf Coast Conference on Social Work on Changes to the NASW Code of Ethics

Photo of Dr. Ragan SchriverDr. Ragan Schriver, Director of the College of Social Work MSSW Program in Knoxville, will be presenting as a plenary speaker at the Gulf Coast Conference on Social Work sponsored by Social Work Foundations. His presentation focuses on Social Work Ethics and particularly looks at the substantive changes in the NASW Code of Ethics that took effect on January 1, 2018.

“It’s unavoidable!” states the conference program description. “Technology and clinical practice is a daily issue regarding confidentiality, informed consent, patient’s rights, and practice issues. Dr. Schriver reviews our ethical standards and professional responsibilities related to utilizing technology in our practice, ethical client interventions, and ‘Micro vs Macro’ issues.”

Not new to discussions on ethics in social work, Dr. Schriver will bring great insight to this conference that meets annually in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides continuing education for thousands of social work professionals in that region.

Dr. Schriver will discuss several of the changes to the NASW Code of Ethics including one that states, “Social workers should obtain client consent before conducting an electronic search on the client.” Also, “Social workers who use technology to provide social work services should assess the clients’ suitability and capacity for electronic and remote services. Social workers should consider the clients’ intellectual, emotional, and physical ability to use technology to receive services and the clients’ ability to understand the potential benefits, risks, and limitations of such services. If clients do not wish to use services provided through technology, social workers should help them identify alternate methods of service.”

NASW explains the need for revision on its website, “With emergent technological advances over the last two decades, the profession could not ignore the necessity for more clarity around the complex ethical issues that arise with the use of various forms of technology.” Changes to the code include 19 new standards and revisions that were developed to address ethical considerations when using technology. The NASW Code of Ethics is probably the most looked to set of guidelines in the profession, offering a set of standards that guide social workers as they make decisions for professional conduct every day.

Read the revised Code of Ethics at:

Dr. Robert Mindrup and Dr. Ragan Schriver Partner with South College to Provide Training on Medication Adherence

Photo of Dr. Robert Mindrup and Dr. Ragan SchriverDr. Robert Mindrup and Dr. Ragan Schriver joined forces with South College School of Pharmacy and Nursing in order to provide training for pharmacists, nurses, social workers, and other allied professionals on Addressing Medication Adherence Across the Lifespan: An Interdisciplinary Approach. They participated in presenting material on What Influences Medication Adherence? and then served on a panel discussion where they responded to audience questions.

These professors from the College of Social Work provided perspective on factors that keep people from adhering to medication, which negatively impact treatment outcomes. Dr. Schriver pointed out that the World Health Organization states, “Some [socioeconomic] factors reported to have a significant effect on adherence are: poor socioeconomic status, poverty, illiteracy, low level of education, unemployment, lack of effective social support networks,. . . high cost of medication, [and] changing environmental situations.” Dr. Mindrup addressed how factors ranging from the health care system to specific disease processes can impact medication adherence.

The presentation that took place at South College was well attended and the response was enthusiastic. The program was co-sponsored by the Area Agency on Aging and Disability.


January 2, 2018

Many College Professors, Students, and Alumni Scheduled to Present at 2018 SSWR Conference

The College of Social Work is sending a large contingent of presenters to the 2018 Conference of the Society for Social Work Research.

  • Sixteen of our faculty, students, and alumni will be participating in 10 Oral Presentations.
  • Thirty of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni will be participating at 21 different Poster Presentations.
  • Three of our faculty and alumni will be presenting at 2 Workshops.

The SSWR Annual Conference offers a scientific program that reflects a broad range of research interests, from workshops on the latest quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to symposia featuring studies in child welfare, aging, mental health, welfare reform, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

Our faculty, students, and alumni are bringing honor to our college both by the large number of presentations that they are offering at this conference and by the quality and depth of the research that these presentations represent.


November 30, 2017

College of Social Work Contributes to Building Strong Brains Evaluation

Tennessee ACEs Initiative logoThe College of Social Work has recently contributed $20,000 to expand an evaluation of Building Strong Brains, Tennessee's ACES Initiative. Building Strong Brains addresses adverse childhood experiences and their impact on children's ability to achieve success in school, live a healthy life, and contribute to their communities.

The evaluation is funded through a grant from the ACE Awareness Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee to the UT Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (UT SWORPS).

In the past year, UT SWORPS conducted a survey to measure public awareness of ACES. Further evaluation will include documentation of early outcomes from 13 local Building Strong Brains projects statewide designed to encourage innovative thinking for addressing ACEs and toxic stress in children.

Additional funding from the UT College of Social work will allow UT SWORPS to expand this evaluation component and inform the Initiative's efforts to secure sustainable funding for innovations with promising outcomes, ensuring that the state maintains a long-term commitment to reduce the impact of ACEs.

Click to learn more about the Tennessee ACEs Initiative


November 9, 2017

Dr. Sherry Cummings and Kate Chaffin Along with 20 Others from UT CSW Presented at the 2017 CSWE Annual Program Meeting

Sherry Cummings and Kate Chaffin presented  Comparison of Online and Traditional MSW Programs' Educational Outcomes: A 5-Year Study

Twenty-two of the College of Social Work faculty and students made presentations at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting in Dallas, Texas during October. These folks participated in 18 separate oral presentations, poster presentations, workshops and panels. The College is extremely proud of our leaders in research and their students.

The presenters included faculty members, Dr. Thereasa Abrams, Kate McClernon Chaffin, Dr. Sunha Choi, Dr. Sherry Cummings, Dr. Camille Hall, Dr. Mary Held, Kim Mallory, Dr. Lisa Reyes Mason, Dr. Robert Mindrup, Dr. Ragan Schriver, Dr. Susan Steckel, Dr. Matthew Theriot, Dr. Phyllis Thompson, and Dr. Stacia West, and students; Kaycee Bills, Aaron Brown, Tennyson Dodd, Aubrey Jones, Jeff McCabe, Dr. Stefanie Pilkay, Jayme Walters, and Sadie Weiss.

Dr. Mary HeldThe topics of presentation at CSWE APM ranged from "Is Social Work Responding to Global Environmental Change?" (Lisa Reyes Mason) to " The Bridge: A Mobile Application for Discharging Burn Patients" (Thereasa Abrams) to "The African American Female Faculty Experience: Diversity in Social Work Education" (Camille Hall) and many more. The Conference took a close look at "Educating for the Social Work Grand Challenges".

In addition to presentations, congratulations go to Dr. Mary Lehman Held (pictured at left), who served as one of the chairs for the Evidence-Based Practice tracks at the 2017 Council for Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting.

Dr. Sherry Cummings, Dr. Ayat Nashwan, and MSSW Student Kara Gagnon Publish Important Study

Dr. Sherry Cummings, Dr. Ayat Nashwan, MSSW student Kara GagnonDr. Sherry Cummings, Associate Dean of the College of Social Work, has co-authored an article with Dr. Ayat Nashwan, alum and Assistant Professor at Yarmouk University, in Amman, Jordan, and Kara Gagnon, MSSW graduate of the College. The article entitled, Older Female Iraqi Refugees: Voices of Struggle and Strength, will be published in the International Social Work Journal.

Sherry Cummings stated, “Ayat is a former PhD student and Kara is a former MSSW student. This article took almost a year to get accepted; but it was all worth it. I'm really very proud of this one!"

Kara Gagnon is currently a treatment case manager at The Next Door in Nashville, working with women who struggle with mental health and addiction. The Next Door is an addiction treatment facility for women. Her goal is to continue working with people that otherwise would have trouble accessing services. She is challenged by this area of service because addiction and mental health are issues that cross all lines of race, religion, and socioeconomic status.

Dr. Ayat Nashwan came to the United States from Jordan to study at the University of Tennessee PhD program.? She returned to Amman, Jordan. where she now teaches and does research at Yarmouk University. She was the first woman in Jordan to earn a PhD in Social Work from an institution in the US. Dr. Nashwan has recently completed a chapter in a book entitled Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families: Culturally Responsive Practice, edited by Alan Detlaff and Rowena Fong. Ayat teamed with Altaf Husain and Stephenie Howard on the chapter entitled Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families. This study looks at demographic patterns in the US, reasons for migration, an overview of Middle Eastern Cultural values including conflicts with US value systems, challenges to cross-system involvement, an overview of federal policies that relate to this population, culturally responsive strategies to address challenges and examples of collaborations.

Dr. Stacia West's Article To Be Published in The Gerontologist Journal

Dr. Stacia West Dr. Stacia West has had an article accepted by The Gerontologist Journal. Dr. West is the second author for the article entitled, "Asset depletion, chronic financial stress, and mortgage trouble among older female homeowners."

Dr. West received her PhD from the University of Kansas after she completed her undergraduate and MSSW work here at UT. Her research interests include, the feminization of poverty, homelessness and housing instability, financial fragility in lower-income households, and social welfare policy.

Nashville Faculty Member Ashley Childers Trains Tennessee Practitioners in ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

Dr. Ashley ChildersNashville faculty member Ashley Childers is a trained clinician in Tennessee who participated in the Building Strong Brains: Tennessee's ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Initiative training for trainers this summer. Jennifer Drake-Croft, MSSW alum of the college and Director of Early Childhood Well-Being for the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) helped to set up the ACEs learning collaborative. She stated, "This training and knowledge mobilization is a key strategy to give Tennessee's children a strong foundation for lifelong health."

Ashley Childers had the opportunity to participate during the summer and fall in events to train others to understand the research on ACES. These trainings included two presentation to the Vanderbilt Social Work staff in which she partnered with the Sexual Assault Center.

She points out that the future prosperity of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. When Tennessee invests wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. Early experiences literally shape how the brain gets built, establishing either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the development and behavior that follows.

A strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of positive outcomes. Adverse Childhood Experiences harm the developing brains and bodies of children compromising the foundation for lifelong health. The ACE research has resulted in child abuse and neglect being acknowledged as a major public health problem and a leading cause of early death. From academic failure to alcoholism, from crime to cancer, presence of ACEs compromise the safety, tax dollars and quality of life for all Tennesseans.

In addition to the ACEs training, Dr. Childers presented an Ethics Training for School Social Work, as part of the Tennessee Association of School Social Workers (TASSW) conference. Last year, Dr. Childers trained this group on the subject of Trauma.

Dr. Ragan Schriver Serves on Review Committee for Shaw Research Center at Notre Dame University

Dr. Ragan Schriver was asked to serve on a review committee for William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families at Notre Dame University. The center advances the well-being of children and families through basic and applied research, the dissemination of research findings and community outreach. Research centers are encouraged to have occasional reviews by outside review teams.

Dr. Ragan SchriverThe Center brings together faculty and students from a number of disciplines including anthropology, biological sciences, economics, psychology, sociology, the Program of Liberal Studies, theology, marketing, management, and several other centers at the University of Notre Dame whose research focuses on children and families. The three major research themes focus on the challenges that children and families confront in today's society: disparities; developmental disabilities and psychopathology; and optimization of development, education, and learning.

Dr. Schriver was teamed with a professor of Developmental Psychology from Arizona State and a professor from Kansas University to meet with all the NDU administration, faculty, staff, students, post-docs, community partners and other collaborators to hear all different perspectives on the work of the center.

He noted, "We were there to examine research procedures, funding models, and governance structures of the center to be reported to the NDU administration. This is part of the ongoing stewardship and continuous improvement process of the University. I was honored to be a part of the review process. It was great to meet so many dedicated folks who want to see improvement in the lives of children and families through the research process. The cool thing is that the research they are doing can be knowledge applied to actual practice."

CSW Professors and Staff Share Their Expertise on Local Television

David Patterson and Lisa Higginbotham on WATE

Dr. David Patterson and Lisa Higginbotham participated in a discussion with Gabriella Pag?n on Knoxville's WATE Midday News show. They were featured to discuss the newly awarded SAMHSA grant for "Tennessee's Homeless Family Services in Supportive Housing", the Knox Homeless Management Information System, as well as the 75th anniversary of the College of Social Work!

Shandra Forrest-Bank on WBIR

Dr. Shandra Forrest-Bank was featured on a WBIR's special feature Parenting 101 with Robin Wilhoit. Dr. Forrest-Bank was asked to provide tips for college students and their families as they try to navigate communication challenges over the holiday break time.

Dr. Forrest-Bank completed her MSSW and PhD work at the University of Denver in Colorado. Her research interests include: transition to adulthood, risk and resilience, positive youth development, violence prevention, and racial microaggression.

See this feature.


October 3, 2017

John Wodarski is Awarded Grant for Joint Project between the College of Social Work and the Helen Ross McNabb Center

The College of Social Work is pleased to share some great news.  Dr. John Wodarski received notification that he has been awarded SAMHSA funding for a five-year grant entitled Tennessee HIV/AIDS Related Substance Use Disorder, and Mental Disorders Services Program. This is a grant totaling $2,491,093 direct and $305,856 indirect.

Photo of Dr. John WodarskiThis program is a joint venture between The University of Tennessee College of Social Work and the Helen Ross McNabb Center, a Regional Behavioral Health System. It addresses the epidemic of minority persons who: a) are HIV positive and have a DSM diagnosis, or b) are HIV positive and have mental health problems that do not reach the criteria for DSM diagnosis; and parents, partners, dependents, and others linked to the client’s Individual Treatment Plan.

The proposed project seeks to expand and enhance the intensive outpatient services of the Regional Behavioral Health System in East Tennessee through culturally competent services and to provide a specialized continuum of care to the target population.

Dr. Wodarski has worked on projects under SAMHSA for a number of years. He stated, "We have helped over three-quarters of a million people with mental health, substance abuse and chronic health issues in East Tennessee." The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

David Patterson and John Wodarski Receive Tennessee’s Homeless Family Services in Supportive Housing Grant

Dr. David Patterson (Co-PI) and Dr. John Wodarski (PI) received notification that they have been awarded SAMHSA funding for a three-year grant entitled Tennessee’s Homeless Family Services in Supportive Housing. This is a grant totaling $1,192,882.

Dr. David PattersonThe purpose of this program is to support the integration of treatment and services for substance use, co-occurring substance use and mental disorders, permanent housing, and other critical services for families who experience homelessness or chronic homelessness. This support includes expanding local implementation of services and developing other community support infrastructures. Participants will be homeless families from Knoxville, Tennessee, Knox County, and the surrounding East Tennessee Counties.

The Behavioral Health Recovery model, an evidence-based practice, addresses the domains of health, home, and community to establish a basis for receipt of services and care, ensuring conditions for enhancement of quality of life. These services include housing, mental health and substance abuse services, education and employment services, and peer support. 

Dr. Patterson is the Director of the KnoxHMIS project, the mission of which is to foster collaborative community partnerships in a focused effort that seeks permanent solutions to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness. In the Director's Commentary for the 2015 Annual Report for that program, Dr. Patterson noted, "KnoxHMIS continues to be the empirical window into homelessness in Knoxville/Knox County, enabling the community to see more clearly the scope and magnitude of this most challenging social problem." The work associated with this new grant will dovetail with that work and will specifically serve 90 homeless families over a three year period.

Shandra Forrest-Bank and Sarah Ferriss Publish Article in Journal of Refugee Studies

Shandra Forrest-Bank and Sarah FerrissDr. Shandra Forrest-Bank, assistant professor at the college, co-authored an article entitled "Perspectives of Somali refugees on pasttraumatic growth after resettlement" with Sarah Ferriss, 2017 graduate of the DSW program. Posttraumatic Growth (PTG), a theory of positive transformation after trauma, offers a framework to consider what contributes to the thriving of some individuals after traumatic experiences.

The results of their study indicate that there is tenacity for life rooted in strong cultural values among Somali refugees; however, significant challenges are brought to the fore-front impacting growth for refugees in resettlement.

Kim Crane Mallory Appointed by Governor to Tennessee Board of Social Work Licensure

The UT College of Social Work is proud of Kim Crane Mallory, Assistant Professor of Practice and Coordinator of Field Education for the Nashville MSSW Program. She has been appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to serve as a member of the Tennessee Board of Social Work Licensure.

Kim Crane MalloryMallory was appointed to this position in June 2017. She expressed her reaction, saying, "I am proud to be a part of the Board of Social Work licensure. In this role, I hope to help shape the future of the field of professional social work in Tennessee and to uphold the high standards our state has for social workers."

The Board of Social Worker Licensure was created in 1984 by an act of the State Legislature. This Board is charged with the responsibilities of governing the practice of social work, safeguarding the health, safety, and welfare of Tennesseans, by requiring that all those who practice social work within this state be qualified. The Board interprets the laws, rules, and regulations to determine the appropriate standards of practice in an effort to ensure the highest degree of professional conduct. The Board is authorized to issue licenses qualified candidates who have completed appropriate education and successfully completed required examinations.

University of Tennessee Announces Launch of Join the Journey Campaign

Join the JourneyThe University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has announced the official launch of the its $1.1 billion Join the Journey campaign. We are working to set UT apart and create a student experience that reaches beyond the ordinary. Our goal to become a preeminent public research university is an ambitious challenge, but we are eager to fulfill our destiny to compete with the best. Our Vol Vision strategic plan is the roadmap for our journey.

Learn how to join the College of Social Work on its journey at:


August 16, 2017

David Dupper Begins Term as Interim Dean

Following the retirement of former dean Dr. Karen Sowers, Dr. David Dupper was appointed Interim Dean of the College effective August 16.

Photo of Dr. David DupperIn his new role, Dr. Dupper will provide strategic leadership for the college's faculty, staff, and students in the coming months while a national search is conducted to hire the College's new dean.

Dr. Dupper came to UT as an associate professor in 1998 and was promoted to full professor in 2010. He has previously served the College as the Associate Dean of the Knoxville campus of the College from 2001-2004 and as the Director of the BSSW Program from 2013-2016.

Dr Dupper's research interests include relationship-based school discipline and comprehensive approaches to addressing school bullying as well as incorporating mindfulness practices within social work education and practice.


May 25, 2017

Elsie Pettit of the College of Social Work Library Retires after 20 Years

Elsie Pettit has served the UT College of Social Work and the UT Library Systems for 20 years. She has worked at the Nashville Campus in the Social Work Library there.

Kate McCernon-Chaffin, Director of the Nashville Campus will miss her presence and all she does for the students. “Elsie has been a source of knowledge and resources for both faculty and students. She led a charge to make sure that students with disabilities received the added services that they needed to be successful in the program as it relates to technology.  She has worked tirelessly to help students with writing skills and has been essential in working with them to find the resources they need to do well in their courses.  She has always been proactive in assisting faculty with adding media and books to the library that will  supplement classes. She will be missed beyond measure!"

Photo of Elsie PettitElsie first studied English Literature as an undergrad student, but went on to get a master's degree in Library and Information Sciences. She came to the College of Social Work serendipitously when she heard that our college was looking for a librarian 20 years ago. She learned while on the job what was important to the faculty of social work and how to best assist social work students in their research.

"Over the years," says Elsie, "I have always enjoyed connecting students with information that they have been unable to find. However, my greatest joy has been having a lot of direct contact with disabled students. It is gratifying to assist them. Before the days of JAWS screen reader, I took time to read articles to students who were blind."

"I will miss the people here at the college and wish them well in the future. I also will miss collaborating with the wonderful library team on the Knoxville campus." When David P. Atkins, from the Knoxville library announced to the library staff that Elsie was planning to retire, he said. "After 20 years of exceptional service, Elsie Pettit will retire from UT Libraries. For these past two decades, Elsie has served as our university’s one-woman show, managing all operations for our College of Social Work (CSW) Library in Nashville. With a great heart and generous spirit, Elsie served Nashville with reference assistance, orientation and instruction, as well as collections support. She also created a safe and welcoming library space for the College of Social Work’s Nashville’s students, faculty, and staff. Always a strong advocate for her students and faculty, Elsie will be dearly missed."

Elsie plans to move from Nashville to Salt Lake City, Utah, to live close to her daughter and son-in-law. She looks forward to hiking in the Wasatch Mountains that surround the city.

May 21, 2017

Nicole Chandler Receives the Lucille Evans Dean Award

The Lucille Evans Dean Award is given annually by the UT College of Social Work, Nashville Campus, in recognition of outstanding social work contributions and service to the community by an alum of the college. Lucille Evans Dean was the first African-American student to graduate from the Nashville School of Social Work, which became the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. She entered the school in 1954 and after she graduated said, "We were well prepared to face the world." Lucille Evans Dean was an exemplary social worker who made an impact on her community.

This year's award was presented to Casaundra Nicole Chandler. Susan Bryant, Director of Recruitment at the College of Social Work, stated, "Nicole is a model social worker who has had a long career of creating safe and healthy environments for children and youth."

Nicole Chandler Receives Lucille Evans Dean AwardC. Nicole Chandler (pictured with Kate Chaffin, Director of the Nashville and Online MSSW Programs and Ragan Schriver, Director of the Knoxville MSSW Program) is the Executive Director of the Change Center Knoxville, a collaborative, citywide initiative. The Change Center provides state-of ?the?art-facilities, recreation, mentorship, and leadership development to increase opportunities for youth to succeed through workforce development and access to educational opportunities from within the inner city.

Chandler, an LMSW and certified Crisis Management Specialist, has a Masters in Social Work from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is also a graduate of the UT Knoxville Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness program (CSEE). A longtime advocate for youth, her professional career includes over 15 years on the staff of other local non-profits: Youth Villages, Wesley House Community Center, and Project GRAD Knoxville.

March 22, 2017

CSW Field Instructor Rachel Ross is TN Social Worker of the Year

Rachel Ross and Kim DentonRachel Ross, LCSW, has been named by NASW-TN as Social Worker of the Year. Ross is a social work professional who is engaged in integrated health care and social work education. Her commitment to education and teaching is highlighted by her development of a social work internship at Vine School Health Clinic in which she works with several bachelor and master students from the UT College of Social Work each academic year.

Along with being a field instructor, she teaches a field course for the College of Social Work. Her leadership exemplifies the best of social work values and the mission of the college. Kim Denton, Assistant Professor of Practice and Coordinator of the CSW Field Education, BSSW Program, nominated Rachel Ross for this award.

March 22, 2017

College of Social Work Student Jessica Tarantino Honored as Social Work Student of the Year

Jessica Tarantino UT College of Social Work Student, Jessica Tarantino, was named 2017 BSW Student of the Year by the NASW-TN Chapter at the organization's Social Work Day on the Hill Honors luncheon. Jessica is an honor's student at the college and is actively involved in advocacy events on campus and in the Knoxville community. She is a leader of the Bachelors Social Work Organization at the college and serves as the Peer Mentoring Coordinator for new transfer students.

Dr. Robert Mindrup, Interim Director of the College's BSSW Program stated, "She is one of the most hardworking, highly intelligent, and dedicated students you will encounter. At the undergraduate level it is quite rare to find a student, like Jessica, who demonstrates a tremendous level of ethical maturity coupled with a profound compassion for social justice. Jessica is greatly respected and highly regarded by her peers and the social work faculty."

Sarah Curtis, BSSW Academic Advisor, added her comments about Jessica. "It was clear from the moment Jessica started at UT that she had a passion for social work that you just cannot teach... I can say with confidence that she will be an outstanding asset to our profession and a shining example of our values and ethics."

Jessica Tarantino was surprised and pleased to receive this award. "When I heard that I had won this award, I initially questioned how and why this had happened," she stated. "I had no idea I was even nominated, so it came as quite a surprise. It wasn't until I went to Social Work Day on the Hill that I realized those who were involved in nominating me. I was very touched by the thoughtful and kind words written by Dr. Mindrup, Sarah Curtis, and Dr. Rogge on my behalf. When reflecting on receiving this award, I realized that it would not have been possible without the leadership opportunities provided by the UT Knoxville College of Social Work, the faculty and staff who have been extremely supportive from the day I transferred to UT, the classmates who have volunteered their time for community service activities I have organized, and the active involvement of the mentors and mentees in the Peer Mentoring Program. I felt overcome with gratitude and feel honored to have received this award."

March 21, 2017

Linda O'Neal Receives Senator Douglas Henry Award for Service to Children and Families at Risk

Linda O'Neal, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, received the College of Social Work's 2017 Senator Douglas Henry Award for Service to Children and Families at Risk on March 21st at the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare's (TCSW) annual Luncheon in Franklin, TN. The award was presented by Associate Dean Dr. Sherry Cummings.

The award is intended to recognize individuals or organizations with an exemplary record of service to children and families. Dr. Cummings, upon presenting the award, explained, "Today, we honor the memory of Senator Henry, who died on March 5th. Senator Henry was known as the patron saint of children and social workers for his long and dedicated service to the children and families of Tennessee. During his years in the state legislature, Senator Henry sponsored numerous bills that affect the safety and well-being of the state's most vulnerable citizens."

Linda O'Neal and Sherry CummingsThis year's award, given to Linda O'Neal, recognizes her long and distinguished career focused on improving the lives of our state's most vulnerable citizens. She began as a counselor and field supervisor in the Tennessee Department of Human Services and went on to found the Institute for Children's Resources, a non-profit youth advocacy agency. She has worked as an attorney and legislative advocate for the Tennessee Association of Legal Services and has taught at MTSU.

Linda is Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. She joined the commission in 1988. Under her leadership, it has focused on improving the state's long term prosperity, encouraging healthy economic and child development, and helping children be safe, healthy, educated, nurtured and engaged in activities that promote success in school and life.

March 30. 2017

Jim Henry Receives Award for a Lifetime Dedication to Public Service

Jim HenryAt the NASW-TN Social Work Day on the Hill celebration, the chapter announced a special new award: the Lifetime Dedication to Public Service award. The recipient of this new aware was Jim Henry, Deputy and Chief of Staff to the Governor.

Upon presenting the award, Dr. Sherry Cummings (Associate Dean for Academics in the College) noted that "It's difficult to imagine anyone more deserving of this recognition than Mr. Henry. Throughout his long and distinguished career in state and local government and the private sector, he has worked tirelessly to protect and improve the lives of our state's most vulnerable citizens."

Jim Henry's record of service includes his longtime membership on the UT College of Social Work's Board of Visitors. In addition, he served in the state of Tennessee legislature from 1980-1990 and joined Governor Haslam's administration in 2011.

February 23, 2017

Longtime College of Social Work supporter, Susan Cooper, makes major gift to create the Social Justice Innovation Initiative.

The Social Justice Innovation Initiative offers a unique framework for understanding many of society's most pressing issues around education, healthcare, and social justice. The mission is ambitious but clear: work to shape and elevate the conversation surrounding these issues through rigorous research, public outreach, expert testimony, and innovative education.

By building a coalition of partners and fellows across academic disciplines and with other universities, policy makers, and legislators, the Initiative will strive to address some of society's most pressing problems. The Social Justice Innovation Initiative will disseminate the latest knowledge and skills to social service practitioners, thus improving the quality of services to provider organizations and clients in Tennessee and across the nation.

The Social Justice Innovation Initiative will also collaborate with researchers, policy makers, legislators, and practitioners to influence and transform policy for lasting social change, and will invite legislators, policy practitioners, and researchers to become Fellows of the Social Justice Innovation Initiative. The Initiative will host/sponsor a conference or symposium annually to highlight at least one of the Grand Challenges for Social Work.

Susan CooperAs the oldest of four children, Nashville native Susan Cooper learned that there were many ways to see the world. Despite living side by side, the six members of her household each developed a unique way to approach life’s issues. Over time she came to understand the ways that complex social problems may affect individuals and families. Susan says she sees two logical paths toward finding solutions. "The first path is to invest in continuing education for Social Work professionals who have day-to-day influence with individuals as they cope with the complexities of their lives. The second approach is to create a forum for discussing he policies, programs, and research that shape our society."

In order to contribute to the overall goal of achieving social justice, Susan is pleased to support the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. Her contribution will enable the College to fund the development and delivery of post-master’s certificate programs and to provide a public platform for thought-leaders seeking to advance the agenda set out in the Grand Challenges for Social Work. (See more information about the Grand Challenges at: )

Susan Cooper graduated from Carson Newman with a degree in Mathematics. Her business career included operations, policy development, and human resource management at BellSouth Corporation, (now AT&T). Susan is now a nature photographer who lives at the boundary of the Great Smoky Moutains National Park. She is generous with her time and resources as a weekly trail volunteer in the park and by serving as president of the Townsend Artisan Guild. She supports learning and development through giving to the Thornton Center at UT, the Tremont Institute and the Student Conservation Association.

In 2015 Susan Cooper and Freida Herron provided the funding for an endowed professorship in mental health practice and research. Dr. David A. Patterson, director of the college's DSW program, was chosen as the first recipient of this professorship.

January 26, 2017

Nashville Assistant Professor Thereasa Abrams Develops Phone App for Burn Survivors in Multi-Disciplinary Effort

Thereasa Abrams, PhD, has joined the UT College of Social Work, Nashville Campus this year as an Assistant Professor. In addition to her teaching work here at UT, Abrams is continuing her research on the needs of individuals who have experienced medical trauma especially those who have sustained traumatic burn injuries.

Dr. Theresa Abrams"I am very excited about the team of visionaries here at UT who want to create a product that works well and looks very professional," says Abrams about the individuals who are committed to completing this project.

As a survivor of traumatic burn injury herself, Teri Abrams knows the challenges that patients face. Generally, burn centers are regional, so when people leave the hospital for home, they are nervous. The UT team envisions an app that lives on the phones of patients so that they can access support at any moment.

Read more about this project.

January 9, 2017

Nashville Asst. Professor April Mallory writes about The Criminalization of Addiction in Pregnancy

April Mallory, Assistant Professor of Practice at the Nashville Campus of the UT College of Social Work, is the author of an article that has been published in the Winter 2017 issue of The New Social Worker.

April MalloryThe article entitled "The Criminalization of Addiction in Pregnancy: Is This What Justice Looks Like?" considers the harsh reality for many pregnant women with addiction to prescription drugs. It looks at Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, treatment options, policy considerations, and recommendations for improving individual and community practice.

April Mallory, MSW, LCSW, is a social worker with many years of experience working within the psychiatric and criminal justice systems. She evaluates impaired physicians as part of the team at Vanderbilt's Comprehensive Assessment Program and is an assistant professor of practice at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.


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