Faculty News

Dr. Caitlin Elsaesser Joins the SSW Faculty

Dr. Elsaesser will teach research in the MSW and doctoral programs.  Her research agenda focuses on evaluating the developmental impact of childhood violence exposure and victimization over the life course. She seeks to contribute much needed insight into how specific forms of violence exposure and/or victimization impact outcomes for youth, especially with regard to education.  Drawing upon advanced statistical analyses, her research examines the variation in responses to violence, the pathways by which violence influences development, and how accumulation of exposure influences development. She focuses on various forms of violence and victimization (e.g., community violence, family violence, and peer victimization) as chronic and cumulative stressors to understand the psychological, behavioral and physiological responses to better inform interventions. violence.  

Caitlin’s research interests were inspired by her work as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools with predominantly Black and Latino children.  Her work is deeply interdisciplinary and reflects her training and background in education, psychology and social work. She was awarded a prestigious four-year doctoral fellowship from the Institute of Educational Sciences.  Her scholarship and teaching will contribute to several of the School’s areas of excellence, including  mental health, trauma, and violence prevention; social and health disparities; diversity and cultural competence.

Beloved and Respected Professor Catherine M. Havens Dies

Beloved and Respected Professor Catherine M. Havens Dies

1948 – 2015

Catherine Havens began her career at UConn in 1974 as the first director of the Women’s Center in Storrs.  She joined the faculty of the School of Social Work in 1976 and held several significant administrative leadership positions throughout her thirty-eight years at the School.  Most recently, she served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and MSW Program Director.

Catherine M. Havens, JD, MSW, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of the MSW Program

In her position as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and MSW Program Director, Professor Havens made numerous contributions to the School, University and profession.  She assisted thousands of students to successfully complete their Masters in Social Work degrees and served on the boards of directors and advisory committees of numerous community organizations including the DCF Training Academy.  She devoted much time and energy to support and promote social and economic justice issues.  Professor Havens was instrumental in securing teaching opportunities for doctoral students within the MSW program and served as a teaching mentor for doctoral students.

In August 2013, Professor Havens stepped down from her position as MSW Program Director and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to return to the faculty in the Community Organization concentration, as a member of the Puerto Rican & Latin@ Studies Project, and Director of the Institute for Violence Prevention and Reduction.  She retired in June, 2014.

Professor Havens taught courses in community organization, macro foundation practice, women’s issues, law and social work, and social welfare policy.  Her areas of specialization include women’s studies focusing on women and public policy, women in administration, women offenders, criminal justice, domestic violence, law and the family, and law and social work.

Professor Havens’ service commitments included Chair, Element Two Advisory Committee, Safe Schools/Healthy Student Federal Project – Hartford Public Schools; member of the Advisory Board, State of Connecticut, Department of Children & Families, Training Academy; Permanent Commission on the Status of Women Consultant – Sexual Harassment in High School’s Research Project; Boards of Directors for Legal Services, Inc. and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Co-chair, Legal Committee Justice for Women Survivors of Abuse Project funded by Yale University Public Initiative Program; and member of the Connecticut Women Offender’s Committee.

Professor Havens received many honors over her long career, including Educator of the Year in 2010 from the NASW CT Chapter, One Woman Makes a Difference by the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, and as a mentor for women in social work education by the Council on Social Work Education’s Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education.


Dean Salome Raheim Inducted NASW Pioneer

The NASW Social Work Pioneer Program was created to honor members of the social work profession who have contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the profession. The Pioneer Program recognizes individuals whose unique dedication, commitment and determination have improved social and human conditions. Salome Raheim, PhD, ACSW, Dean and ProfessorPioneers are role models for future generations of social workers. Their contributions are reflected in every aspect of the profession, as well as in the establishment of social policies and human services programs. They have accomplished this through practice, teaching, writing, research, program development, administration, advocacy, legislation, and election to public office.

Dr. Raheim is Dean and Professor at the UConn School of Social Work, the first African-American to be appointed as dean. Her passion for creating more just organizations and communities has taken her across the United States and four continents to provide training and consultation to schools, universities, human service organizations and businesses on how to create welcoming and inclusive environments. She holds several national leadership positions, including National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work Board of Directors, Council on Social Work Education National Nominating Committee, and Corporate Board of Directors, Women and Social Work, Inc., sponsor of the Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work. In addition, she is a New York Academy of Medicine Leadership in Aging Academy Fellow.

In 2013, Dean Raheim was one of 150 leading social work educators from across the country who attended a White House briefing on the expanding role of social work in today’s changing health care environment, focusing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She has had an impact on cultural competence of faculty, staff and administration at UConn by leading an initiative in that area, which has affected students as well, over 100 of whom have posted personal pledges to make the School a welcoming, inclusive and just community. At the University of Iowa, where she was director of the School of Social Work, she was responsible for increasing the number of faculty of color where no such faculty had been hired for the previous ten years. The Cultural Competence Initiative, which she led, enhanced diversity within the university and resulted in a 2002 Catalyst Award, given for innovative programs, policies and activities that enhance diversity within the university. She has presented her original diversity and cultural competence training in Australia, England, Guatemala, Mexico and South Africa.

Dr. Raheim has published book chapters, peer-reviewed articles and technical reports in her areas of expertise. She has developed the conceptual framework for her organizational change efforts, on which she has expounded in her more than 80 presentations, workshops and seminars at local, state, national, and international venues. She has won multiple honors and awards, including being named by the NAACP in 2011 and 2013 as one of the “100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut.”

Dr. Barris Malcolm Visits the White House

Not many people get the opportunity to visit the White House twice in one year, but Associate Professor, Dr. Barris Malcolm, had such an experience. This past June, Dr. Malcolm was invited by the Washington DC-based Caribbean and African Faith-Based Leadership Council to speak at their annual conference. The topic of his presentation was, Responding to the Needs of Returned (deported) Caribbean & African Citizens: Domestic and International Challenges and Opportunities”. The conference was part of a five-day working symposia during National Caribbean Heritage Legislative Week, that seeks through dialogue to identify the significant domestic and international needs, challenges and appropriate responses in ministering to individuals, families and communities of Caribbean and African diaspora in the USA.

Dr. Barris Malcolm in front of the White House
Dr. Barris Malcolm

As a result of his research and presentation, Dr. Malcolm was among fifteen leaders of the Caribbean American and African Faith Leadership Council invited by the Office of Public Engagement to a round-table briefing at the White House on November 12, 2014. This was an opportunity for White House officials to engage in dialogue with Caribbean American and African Faith Leaders on important issues facing their communities including; The Affordable Care Act, Ebola, and Immigration.

In light of the fact the President Obama has expressed his intent to use his executive powers to reform immigration laws, Dr. Malcolm and colleagues used this opportunity to discuss how various provisions may positively or negatively affect immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean.

In Social Work Practice, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Social workers currently face growing demands for measurable behavioral outcomes, reflecting a shift in the profession toward “scientific” proof to demonstrate its effectiveness. While agreeing that practitioners should embrace strategies proven to be effective in helping people, Alex Gitterman, Zachs professor of social work and director of the doctoral program at UConn’s School of Social Work, disagrees with the so-called “evidence-based practice” approach, noting that deeply rooted social problems do not neatly lend themselves to empirically-based interventions.

UConn Today recently spoke with Gitterman about his advocacy for “evidence-guided” social work practice, in which research, theory, and accumulated practice wisdom receive equal weight and respect.
<img class="wp-image-16857 size-full" src="http://ssw.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/alex-gitterman-09042014.jpg" alt="Alex Gitterman, professor of social work, meets with graduate students at the School of Social Work" width="250" height="167" Alex Gitterman, professor of social work, meets with graduate students at the School of Social Work. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Q. Social work has struggled to prove itself worthy of professional identity, status, and respect. Why?

In society’s division of labor among professions, some – such as education, law, and police – are assigned the function of building a stronger and better-integrated society. Others such as medicine, psychiatry, and psychology are assigned the purpose of strengthening the individual. Social work is the only profession where both people and environments require equal attention. Its purpose is broad: to improve clients’ social and psychological functioning; to enhance the transactions between people and their environments; and to influence communities, organizations, and legislation to be more socially just. Social work relies heavily on principles drawn from medicine and science that provide certain credibility, but their application may have clouded the profession’s distinctive purpose to consider forces within and outside of the client as sources of problems and targets for intervention.

Q. Is the social work profession based primarily on science?

Evidence-based social work practice says specific interventions exist to solve most types of problems, and that practitioners can find and then use the most effective – the “best” –intervention. But focusing exclusively on measurable behavioral change in the real world ignores the struggles people experience in dealing with and surviving day-to-day life challenges, struggles that the social work profession is committed to addressing. The evidence-based approach assumes a linear relationship between research and practice, when in actuality the connections between theory, research, and practice are complex and often elusive. Our work takes place amidst poverty, unemployment, oppression,homelessness, racism, and community violence. Complex social problems such as these do not lend themselves to narrow interventions that are the foundation of evidence-based practice. The social work help process is rarely as linear and simple as the advocates of evidence-based practice suggest.

Q. How do you characterize the social work profession?

Social work can and should serve both client and community. In contrast to evidence-based practice, I advocate an “evidence-guided” approach in which interventions are suggested, rather than prescribed by research findings. Social workers must have autonomy and flexibility to improvise and to be spontaneous. The worlds of theory and research are logical, orderly, and sequential. In contrast, the lives of people are confusing, disorderly, and contemporaneous. The very act of finding connections among theory, research, and practice often requires a great deal of curiosity and creativity.

Q. Do you see a unique challenge to the social work profession?

We must be careful that evidence-based interventions do not translate into the “scientific management” of our clients. In the contemporary political context, the evidence-based practice movement sits too comfortably alongside managed care with its emphasis on financial accountability, rather than on responding to the needs of clients. As the profession becomes increasingly accountable for documenting positive outcomes, clients’ progress or lack of progress are attributed to the social workers’ skills or lack of skills. I encourage my students to hold on to their professional core. While they must represent their agencies, they must not become their agencies. Representing rather than becoming one’s agency is what differentiates a professional from a bureaucrat. When they become their agency, they become agents of social control.

Q. What should social work education do to better prepare students as practitioners?

It’s important for students to resist following a prescribed script. Research can inform practice; however the findings can only provide guidelines and not prescriptions. The task remains to turn available knowledge into skillful action. Students must feel empowered to integrate theoretical and empirical knowledge with their unique personal styles. After all, that is what makes a professional, a professional.

Gitterman, A. (2014) In Social Work Practice, One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Retrieved from UConn Today website http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2014/09/in-social-work-practice-one-size-doesnt-fit-all/

Dr. Julianne Wayne Awarded the Florence W. Vigilante Award for Scholarly Excellence

Congratulations to Julianne Wayne for being selected the recipient of the second annual Florence W. Vigilante Award for Scholarly Excellence in recognition of the best article published in Volume 33 (2013) of the Journal of Teaching in Social Work. The award is given annually in honor of the founding editor of the Journal. Dr. Julianne Wayne, Director of Field EducationThe article, authored with Marian Bogo, titled, “The Implicit Curriculum in Social Work Education: The Culture of Human Interchange” was selected “based on its outstanding scholarship and creativity”. Taylor & Francis, the journal publishers, will be highlighting this achievement at their display at the forthcoming CSWE APM meeting this fall.

Dr. Wayne’s Faculty Profile: http://ssw.uconn.edu/faculty-listing/julianne-wayne-ed-d

Dr. Lynne Healy Accepts Katherine Kendall Award in Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Lynne Healy, UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Chair of the Administration Concentration, and founding Director of the Center for International Social Work Studies was awarded The Katherine A. Kendall Memorial Award for 2014. The award was established to recognize distinguished international contributions to social work education at the international level.
Lynne Healy at the podium giving the Katherine Kendall Memorial Address
Dr. Healy has published on internationalizing social work curricula, international social work, human rights, human service agency management, and ethics. Her most recent publications are:

M.C. Hokenstad, L.M. Healy, S.A. Segal (Editors). (2013). Teaching Human Rights: Curriculum Resources for Social Work Educators. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work

S. Gatenio-Gabel & L.M. Healy (Editors). (2012) Globalization and Social Work Education. Special Issue. Journal of Social Work Education. 48:4.

L.M. Healy and R. J. Link (Editors) (2012) Handbook on International Social Work: Human Rights, Development and the Global Profession. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dr. Healy chairs the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) Human Rights Committee, and represents the IASSW on the United Nations NGO Committee for Social Development, and the Subcommittee on Poverty Eradication; previously, she served IASSW as Secretary and Vice-President. She also serves on the editorial boards or advisory committees of 7 professional journals.
From the left, Lena Dominelli, Vishanthie Sewpaul, Lynne Healy, Sue Lawrence
As the recipient of the award, Dr. Healy was invited to give the Katherine Kendall Memorial Address. She spoke on Ensuring Rights, Inclusion and Equality: A Holistic Post-2015 Agenda for Social Work. This presentation emphasized a more holistic approach to promoting equality, giving emphasis to human rights and social inclusion and bringing the major goals of the Social Work Global Agenda together. The keynote promoted the legacy of Katherine Kendall, who believed deeply in the capacity of social work, social work education, and the international professional organizations to contribute to the work of the United Nations and to human well-being on the global scale.

Dr. Healy’s Faculty Profile: http://ssw.uconn.edu/faculty-listing/lynne-healy-ph-d

Dr. Berthold Reports on Findings of Connecticut’s First Comprehensive Needs Assessment for the Asian Pacific American Community

On Monday, June 30, the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission held a press conference on Connecticut’s first comprehensive needs assessment survey of Asian Pacific American communities. This landmark study will serve as a pilot for future initiatives to reach other Asian Pacific American ethnic groups in Connecticut. Dr. S. Megan Berthold analyzed the data and reported on the findings.

“There is an urgent need to address the high prevalence of diseases affecting Southeast Asian adults in our state,” said Berthold. “There are high rates of physical and mental health conditions reported by Southeast Asians in Connecticut. The majority perceived their health to be fair or poor while many reported seeing health providers regularly.”

S. Meghan Berthold, Ph.D.
S. Megan Berthold, PhD
Assistant Professor

“Having a primary care physician is not sufficient to safeguard the health of Southeast Asian adults”, said Dr. Berthold. Her findings also highlight how vital it is that physicians screen for a wide range of physical health conditions as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Also, concerted efforts must be made to enhance accurate and effective communication between Southeast Asian community members and their providers. The majority of Southeast Asian adults reported a lack of professional interpreters as required by law. This major communication barrier results in misdiagnosis and miscommunication regarding medication and treatment. This further compromises the health of Southeast Asians in CT and potentially puts their lives at risk.

“Until the economic status of Southeast Asians in CT improves, many will continue to face significant health disparities and be forced to make hard decisions about whether to spend their income on food, heat, or medical care,” said Berthold. “Many will continue to forego medical visits and skip filling or taking prescribed medication.”

This study demonstrates the importance of disaggregating data for Southeast Asians, as different patterns and risk profiles were present for each of the three ethnic groups surveyed – Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese. Data on Southeast Asians in Connecticut and the United States are frequently lumped together with “Asians”. By disaggregating the data, it will be possible to obtain a more accurate picture of the individualized needs and the differences between communities.

As Connecticut continues to pursue health innovations aimed at improving the health of all and eliminating health disparities, it is vital that it develop strategies individually tailored to the needs of different community groups. In the absence of appropriate care and attention to the social determinants of health and preventive health measures, it is likely that Asian Pacific American communities will continue to suffer and cost our State considerable healthcare dollars.

Video of Dr. Berthold’s Presentation


Dr. Negroni Recruiting Latino/a Graduates for a Research Study

If you are a Latino/a MSW graduate from the UConn School of Social Work from 1984 through 2014, please volunteer for a research study. Dr. Lirio Negroni is exploring the factors that influenced Latino/a alumni to apply to the UConn School of Social Work, the challenges they encountered, the factors that helped them complete their MSW education and their thoughts about how the SSW can be more successful in recruiting and retaining Latinos/as.

Dr. Negroni is asking that you complete a 15 – 20 minute survey that can either be emailed or mailed to you. Your responses will help increase educational opportunities for other Latinos/as and help others to achieve their career goals.

To learn more or to participate, contact Dr. Lirio Negroni at:


Dr. Robert Fisher Selected for Fulbright Award

Robert Fisher receives prestigious Fulbright award. As a Fulbright Scholar he will teach and research in Austria during the Spring 2015 semester. Dr. Fisher will be teaching social science courses at the University of Innsbruck. Robert Fisher, Ph.D. ProfessorHis research project “Community and Civil Society in Austria: A Comparative Perspective” will compare state, market, and civil society developments in the U.S, U.K, and Austria.

The Fulbright will enable Dr. Fisher to expand his research on the “turn to community” as an alternative to the welfare state in Austria, a small nation where the social welfare state is still relatively intact. This is Dr. Fisher’s third Fulbright Scholar award, having also been the recipient in 1986-88 and 1994.