As we approach the end of the semester and the beginning of winter holidays, I want to extend my warmest wishes to all of you. I know that this has been an extraordinary year and I’ve heard from many of you about the challenging work you are doing on behalf of the communities we serve. We thank you for that.
Given the systemic social, cultural, and economic inequities that have been brought into stark relief during this difficult year of the pandemic, the School of Social Work is working hard to meet the needs of our students and clients. We have successfully pivoted from our traditional face to face classroom learning to a mix of hybrid, distance learning and in person modalities. This has required our faculty and students to learn new skills and to find creative ways to learn together. As ever, I am grateful to them and to our staff who support all the work of the school.
Field education, too, looks different than usual. We have created remote learning activities for students and developed new field units. We launched along with the Hartford Public Schools, a field unit of more than 20 students, placed among the district schools where they are providing trauma informed services to students and families, while supporting their emotional and social needs. We have a group of students providing intensive remote support to older adults whose isolation has increased given the pandemic restrictions. Finally, we have a cohort of students providing essential contract tracing services to the people of Connecticut. In the midst of the pandemic, we have been able to quickly assess contemporary needs and find creative means for our students to gain valuable field experience.
The effects of twin pandemics – coronavirus and anti-black racism – are substantial for our communities. The SSW is working hard through Just Community and our student groups and faculty, to develop meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion activities and programs, in order to address many of these issues. Please see our website for many of the anti-racism resources we are using. We are so proud of our students and their attention to these issues. At the same time, UConn has increased its investment in meaningful diversity and equity awareness and training and we will continue to partner with other schools and colleges within the university.
We have also welcomed three new faculty members this year, Dr. Joanne Corbin, Associate Professor for Academic Affairs and assistant professors, Kelsi Carel and Gio Iaconi. Even in this virtual environment, they have quickly assumed their teaching and research activities and are warmly welcomed by their colleagues and students.
The School of Social Work continues to thrive in our downtown Hartford home, as we build more robust connections with community partners, offering new and enhanced educational opportunities for our students. We are proud that our very first Bachelor of Social Work student cohort graduated this June and we continue to develop creative and flexible learning options to expand access to our programs and meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student body.
If ever there were a time for social work, this is it. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we support the students of today as they are the future workforce in our growing and vital profession. On behalf of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni, I thank you for your generous support and extend to you every wish for good health and well-being.
While there are numerous distractions in the world right now, we continue to focus on the preparation of the next generation of outstanding social work practitioners, educators, and researchers, who are committed to human rights and social justice through their work with our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.
If there were ever a time for social work, this is it. Thanks to you all who continue to contribute to the mission of the UConn SSW through your roles as mentors, field education supervisors, role models and leaders in the community and with your generous support of the school and our students. Our network of dedicated and accomplished alumni is one of the SSW’s greatest assets. Thank you for everything you do, every day.
On behalf of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni, I extend to you every wish for good health and well-being.