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Letter to Students, November 2015

School of Social Work Director Melinda Hohman

School of Social Work Director Melinda Hohman

Dear Students,

In the past, I have written to you towards the end of the semester, to touch base and to review our accomplishments over the past few months. We have had another great semester with about 550 students enrolled in our BSW, MSW, PhD and Gero programs. We have welcomed our first cohort of PhD students and developed an exciting opportunity for second year MSW students to participate with Nursing students in the Nursing simulation lab. There the students role played various medical social work scenarios with the Nursing students as actors.

I am writing a little earlier this year, mainly due to recent developments in the news that have been shocking and sad–first the racial problems at the University of Missouri,  the terrorism in Paris, and now a hate-related assault on our own campus.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post for the School’s blog with the intention of posting it early in January. My goal was to begin a dialogue on social justice, particularly racial justice. Some of you have asked for more discussion on this topic. I also wanted to begin to prepare us as a School for when we come together to celebrate Social Work Month on All School Day, March 18, 2016.

After consultation with our faculty, it was decided that instead of waiting until after the holidays, that we begin this discussion now, in light of recent events. Some of you have contacted me to describe your hurt, sadness, and anger as a response to what is in the news. Thus I am writing  you now and have posted my blog, a bit revised, to include current events. Here is the link to the In Situ blog.

We are offering several ways to dialogue about racial injustice. You can talk to your professors individually and/or ask about a discussion in class. In addition to my regular “coffees” which have been relatively informal, I will now be doing “Coffee & Talk” where I will facilitate a more structured discussion on this topic–or on others that you may suggest. Finally, you can submit your own “race essay” to either Dr. Engstrom or me for posting on our School blog. These posts are usually about 500-750 words and can be about your thoughts or even own personal experiences. As I wrote in my own post, reading and listening to the stories of others is one way to learn.

Racial dialogues can often be quite painful and discomforting, which is why some people avoid them. It is up to you how you choose to participate. Learning from each other is often a growth producing process and will only enrich us all as social workers. Please feel free to come talk to me, Dr. Min, or other faculty members if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns. We want to hear from you.

Some events/dates to keep in mind:

  • December 7: Research poster session for SW791 at the Park Blvd Room at the Aztec Student Center, from 8-11am. My regular open house “Coffee” will be held there, with of course, coffee, and cookies. Everyone is invited to see the work of the students in this class.
  • December 9: I am holding my “Coffee & Talk” for those students who wish to have a more structured discussion regarding racial justice/school and university climate/the social work response. We will meet in HH204 from 3:30-5.
  • March 18: All School Day, mandatory for MSW students; hours count toward field. We will meet at the Aztec Student Center from 8am-12pm. Our keynote speaker is Dean John Jackson of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. All students in the School are invited to attend.
  • And on a lighter note, the School of Social Work is now on Instagram!  Send in pictures to post to:

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends.

Mindy Hohman