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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.

Sunha Choi Studies Medicaid Expansion, Insurance Status, and Access to Health Care

Photo of Dr. Sunha ChoiDr. Sunha Choi has had an article entitled "The effects of state Medicaid expansion on low-income individuals’ access to health care: Multilevel modeling," accepted for publication in Population Health Management. The abstract (see link below) describes this as a study aimed to examine how states' Medicaid expansion affected insurance status and access to health care among low-income expansion state residents in 2015, the second year of the expansion.

The results indicate substantial increases in health care access between 2012 and 2015 among low-income adults in Medicaid expansion states.

A nationally representative sample of 544,307 adults (ages 26?64 years) from 50 states and Washington, DC were analyzed using multilevel modeling. However, residents with income below 100% of the poverty line in non-expansion states were disproportionately negatively affected by states' decision to not expand Medicaid coverage.

Choi, S., Lee, S., & Matejkowski, J. (2017, online first). The effects of state Medicaid expansion on low-income individuals’ access to health care: Multilevel modeling. Population Health Management.
(Abstract: )

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.

Register for the College of Social Work 2017 Homecoming Gala

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Register now for the College of Social Work 2017 Homecoming Gala. Learn more at:

Special student discount - $25.00. Gala Registration (Student)

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:

For previous news announcements, see the E-News Archives

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