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March 20, 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.

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:

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 Prospective Students

Photo of Student AmbassadorsCollege of Social Work Ambassadors work with Student Recruitment Director, Susan Bryant, writing letters of welcome to prospective students 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.

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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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.

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