9th GSSW Director/Dean – James Herbert Williams, PhD – GSSW’s current Dean

James Herbert Williams, PhD, MSW, MPA, University of Denver

9th GSSW Dean/Current Dean

2010 – Present

pf-williams

James Herbert Williams is Dean and Milton Morris Endowed Chair at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver. His research and practice focuses on human security and economic sustainability, health promotion and disease prevention, behavioral health disparities and health equity, global practice and sustainable development, adolescent violence and substance use, mental health services for African American children in urban schools, disproportionate minority confinement of African American youth in the juvenile justice system, school safety and violence prevention, and community strategies for positive youth development. James Herbert joined the University of Denver faculty as dean in 2007; prior to his appointment as Dean, he was the Foundation Professor of Youth and Diversity at the School of Social Work at Arizona State University and the E. Desmond Lee Professor of Racial and Ethnic Diversity at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. He also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Brown School. His funded research and training includes grants from NICHD, NIMH, NIDDK, DOJ, DOE, DHHS, UNCRD, OMH, and the Danforth Foundation. His scholarship has been published in several health and social science journals.

James Herbert is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Social Work Research. He is a member of International Editorial Advisory Board for Regional Development Studies; member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Adolescent Health; and member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Group for the Global Risk Forum’s One Health Initiative. James Herbert has held various leadership roles including President of the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD), and three CSWE Commissions (Educational Policy, Diversity and Social and Economic Justice, Information Management and Research); a member of the Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER), a board member of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), a member of the International Committee of the National Association of Social Work, and he has twice served as a member of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Board of Directors both as a member-at-large and as Vice-President. He served as a member of the NADD strategic planning task force and co-chair of the NADD task force on health disparities.

James Herbert received his B.A. from Grambling State University, his MSW from Smith College, his MPA from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and his PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle..

If you like to get an appointment with Dean Williams or contact him please email gsswdean@du.edu or call the Office of the GSSW Dean at (303)-871-2203.

The Work-School Balance

As a work-study student in the admissions office, many prospective students ask me if people work in the program, if it’s possible, and if not, how on earth does anyone make ends meet?

When I first came to GSSW for orientation, I remember worrying about my future schedule, consisting of work-study, internship, class time, and a part -time work schedule. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it and wondered if anyone else was experiencing the same sense of hesitancy. On that first day, I sat next to a woman who, it turned out, had a full-time job, kids, and was in the full-time 2-year program! I decided to keep my little worries to myself as it became clear that others had similar if not more demanding schedules.

What I’ve learned over the past year and a quarter is that, yes, working and going to school is possible. Not only is it possible, many of my classmates make it happen. We are all under the stress of an intensive program but we all also need to eat and have shelter. So, my answer to prospective students is “yes, it is in fact more than possible to work and go to school.”

For those of you entering the two-year program full-time, I would suggest keeping a part-time work schedule. I find that if my work-time exceeds 20 hours a week, I become a bit frazzled. I also think it’s important to find jobs that are somewhat flexible; after all, during the quarter, you may need to pull an all-nighter or cut your hours a bit, but for the rest of the year, your schedules open up. Lastly, I would remind you that you are not alone and that many in this program are both going to school and trying to sustain life (and that both are important to succeed).

—-

In solidarity,
Julie

8th Director/Dean – Catherine Alter

CATHERINE FOSTER ALTER (1938-present)

Dean and Professor (1996-2006)

Dean Emerita (2006-present)

Catherine Alter

Catherine Alter attended Grinnell College (Iowa), graduating in 1960 as a double major in American Studies and Journalism. Her MSW was completed at University of Iowa (1975). The results from her masters thesis, indicating the overrepresentation of children of color in special education classes in the Davenport, Iowa School District, were used as data in supporting a complaint of racial bias filed with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which eventually led the school district to institute a plan of remediation. She completed her Ph.D. in social work at the University of Maryland (1985), conducting dissertation research on interorganizational service delivery systems.

Alter’s prior professional practice career includes staff and executive positions in public relations, television production, urban planning, administration of area-wide services for seniors, directing a program for at-risk children, and conducting research on social and economic development. She has held paid and/or consulting positions with the Children’s Defense Fund, the Carnegie Council on Children, the Institute for Social and Economic Development, and served as technical expert for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Prior to coming to GSSW as the eighth head of the social work at DU, she was a faculty member at St. Ambrose College (Iowa), University of Maryland, and University of Iowa. At University of Iowa, she chaired the four-city social work satellite programs, was Director of the School of Social Work, and Coordinator of the Graduate Program.

Notable achievements during her tenure as GSSW Dean include curriculum innovations such as: the distance education program in the Four Corners area; certificate programs in working with Latino/as, survivors of trauma, and the use of animals to assist social work practice. She instituted the first comprehensive strategic planning and budgeting process at GSSW; greatly expanded the size of staff and faculty; significantly increased the financial aid assistance to MSW and doctoral students; created continuing education and outreach programs to alumni, community practitioners, and human service agencies; networked with other Colorado social work education programs about the advancement of the profession; coordinating the efforts among NASW, Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work, and other groups to continue social work licensing in Colorado; and, most recently, successfully led a seven year capital campaign which raised over $11 million for the renovation and expansion of the School’s present home, Craig Hall. As a result of these efforts, along with increased faculty scholarship and research, GSSW has moved significantly higher in the national rankings of accredited schools of social work place.

GSSW On the Road: Upcoming Graduate School Fairs and Panels

2014-2015 GSSW is on the road and we’d love to see you!

Colorado

September 23, 2014 – Colorado State University  Graduate School Fair– Fort Collins, Colorado

October 2, 2014 – University of Denver Graduate School Fair – Denver, Colorado

October 9, 2014 – Virtual SW Graduate School Fair – Online. Contact Nick Ota-Wang (Nick.Ota-Wang@du.edu) for details.

October 15, 2014 – Metropolitan State University of Denver – Graduate School Panel – Denver, Colorado

Florida

October 23 – 26, 2014 – CSWE National Conference – Tampa. Florida

California

November 8, 2014 – Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education – University of San Diego, San Diego, California

April 8, 2015 – Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education – Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA

If you are near any of our travels and would like to chat with an admission counselor please contact Nick Ota-Wang by email to Nick.Ota-Wang@du.edu or call (303)-871-2779.

We hope to see you soon!

2014-2015 Information Sessions

Interested in obtaining your MSW degree? Ever wonder how the application process, financial aid, and academic work happens at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work?

If your answer to any or all of the questions above is YES then please consider signing up for one our information sessions this year!

2014-2015 Information Sessions

  • September 20 (Saturday, 9-noon)
  • October 10 (Friday, 1-4)
  • November 14 (Friday, 1-4)
  • December 5 (Friday, 1-4)
  • January 10 (Saturday, 9-noon)
  • March 6 (Friday, 1-4)
  • May 15 (Friday, 1-4)

To RSVP click here.

The sessions will be held in the Community Room in Craig Hall.

If you have any questions or would like to have the opportunity to speak with one of our Admission & Financial Aid staff please email us at gssw-admission@du.edu or give us a call (303)-871-2841.

We look forward to seeing you or speaking with you soon!

7th GSSW Dean – Dr. John ‘Jack’ Jones 1987-1996, Dean Emeritus, 2004-2013

John F. Jones (“Jack”) 1923-2013

Dean and Professor, GSSW,1987-96

Interim Provost, 1989

Professor 1996-2004

Dean Emeritus, 2004 -2013

Jack JonesPhoto courtesy of University of Denver Magazine

 Jack Jones was born in Dublin, Ireland. He earned a BA from the National University of Ireland (1953), an MSW from the University of Michigan (1966), an MA in Public Administration and Ph.D. (social work) from the University of Minnesota (1968). Prior to coming to GSSW as its seventh program head, Jones served for 12 years as the Director of the social work program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1976-1987) and was the founding dean of the School of Social Development, University of Minnesota-Duluth (1971-1976). He also has held academic positions at Hong Kong University, the University of Wisconsin, and Case Western Reserve University.

During his nine years as GSSW dean, the enrollment of the School nearly doubled, and the volume of faculty research and training grants significantly increased. Jones played a key role in establishing, and later chairing, the Colorado Human Services, Research, Education, and Training Consortium (a partnership between the social work programs at DU, Colorado State University, and Metropolitan State University) that brought in $1.5 million training grants in child welfare to GSSW. In addition, Jones was involved in establishing the Bridge Project, a program serving the children, adults, and families of Denver’s public housing.

Drawing on his extensive international experience and research on three continents, and more than 20 years of consulting with the United Nation, Jones published a dozen books and numerous articles on social development, transitional economies, and human security in Asia and Africa. He led GSSW in establishing a unique international partnership with the All China Youth Federation to reestablish the profession of social work in China. As a result, GSSW and the China College of Youth Politics in Beijing have engaged in several faculty exchanges and joint research projects.

Jones served on numerous international boards and committees, such as the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Center for Regional Development and the International Council of Social Welfare. His national and local voluntary service included the American Humane Association, Volunteers of America, the Governor’s Business Commission on Child Care Financing, Warren Village, and the Colorado chapter of NASW. In recognition of his work in founding the Inter-university Consortium for International Social Development, he received its Founders’ Award in 1992.

Following his retirement from the GSSW faculty, Jones continued his work at the University as a research professor in DU’s Conflict Resolution Institute. Emeritus Dean Jones worked on several publications with the current dean of GSSW James Herbert Williams until his death on February 20, 2013. Dr. Jones is a missed member of the community both in Denver and at the University of Denver.  His influence on faculty, staff, and students is memorable.

To read a great article about Dr. Jones in the University of Denver magazine following his passing please visit: http://magazine.du.edu/campus-community/former-gssw-dean-jack-jones-dies/

6th Head of GSSW – Katherine “Kay” Vail – Acting Dean 1985-1987

KATHERINE VAIL (“Kay”) (1924-2007 )

GSSW Professor (1969-1989)

Acting Dean (1985-1987), 6th Head of GSSW

Emeritus Professor (1989)

“Kay Vail is an organizer. She organizes organizations and people in the organizations.”

The Denver Post, March 19, 1973

Katherine (Kay) Vail

Kay Vail was born in Topeka, Kansas, but grew up in a small town in Texas where her father owned a cotton gin. In high school, she was “double promoted,” graduating at age 16. She graduated from Baker University (Kansas) in 1945. She was not able to study music, because that department had been eliminated because of WW II, so she majored in physical education. For the next 15 years, she worked for the Girl Scouts in Topeka. “They were looking for people who were particularly interested in camping, and that was my specialty.”

Vail completed her MSW at DU in 1955, specializing in group work. She then worked for the Girls Scouts for two years in Portland, OR. Vail’s love of the outdoors brought her back to Colorado in 1959, where she worked part time on a dude ranch while also serving as the Executive Director of the Colorado White House Conference on Children and Youth. From 1960-66, she was the Coordinator of Special Services for the Metropolitan Council for Community Services in Denver.

Her teaching career at GSSW began in 1967 as a field instructor and course instructor in group work. In1969, she joined the faculty full time, teaching a wide range of courses, including the practice of social work, group work, social policy and administration, management and staff development, integrated practice, and group research. Vail also took on many administrative tasks involving the internal functions of the school. She was in charge of the Continuing Education programs, and established the Satellite Education Program in Pueblo, extending MSW education to an underserved area of the state. As Associate Dean (1983-1985) and then Acting Dean (1985-1987), she put GSSW’s financial affairs back in order, led the faculty in reevaluating and revising the curriculum, and developed the Information Technology Center, bringing GSSW into the computer age. She served on many University committees as well as numerous community boards and organizations. In retirement, she continued her work on various human service projects in Park County, CO, and also in Mexico, where she spends the winter.

Kay Vail passed away in an Aurora nursing home on April 20, 2007, after a long illness. She was 82 and was preceded in death by her husband, Richard. Kay is survived by two step-children, Richard and Pat of Aurora, former daughter-in-law (called “daughter” by Kay), Helene Burns of Bailey, ten step-grandchildren, and three nephews and a niece. Kay will also be missed and remembered by her many friends and associates in Park County. Funeral services were private (http://www.theflume.com/obituaries/article_2b42f2ba-94cc-5779-a311-4bb997baeac9.html)

Kay is still supporting education in the community. In her will, she bequeathed generous annuities to the Park County Library and the Park County Education Foundation. (http://www.theflume.com/obituaries/article_2b42f2ba-94cc-5779-a311-4bb997baeac9.html)

The Platte Canyon community, Park County, and the many people Kay worked to help are grateful for her commitment and her very active life here. (http://www.theflume.com/obituaries/article_2b42f2ba-94cc-5779-a311-4bb997baeac9.html)

First Impressions

When I received my acceptance letter from GSSW to be in the Advanced Standing program, I could not have been more excited.  I had grown up in a small town called Mars Hill, NC- just twenty minutes north of Asheville.  I went to undergrad at Mars Hill College, five minutes from my house.  I needed to go and experience new places and people.  Denver, I thought, was the place to do it, and DU was my ticket.  I was not disappointed.   

Moving 

After well over a month of meticulous research and spreadsheet making of affordable apartments in Denver, I still hadn’t found an apartment when I arrived in late June.  It was difficult to find something within my price range that was available when I had planned to move, but I took a chance and moved out here anyway.  It took three days of calling over 100 apartments and four viewings before we found a studio that would work.  Still slightly out of my price range, but it was cozy and still affordable.  It is within a fifteen minute walk from the light rail station, everything that I would need is on the same street, including a movie theater, thrift stores, dentists, grocery stores, and of course a healthy selection of coffee shops.  There is a decent sized park just two minutes walking distance from my apartment and the complex was filled with bunnies and tree stumps carved into little animals.  This place is just about perfect.  Coming from a small town where the biggest city, is probably half the size of Denver, and where I was always in the company of nature and mountains, Denver was scary.  I was no longer in the safety and comfort that my mountains from home provided.  I was in a concrete city, full of people and cars, and a 30 minute drive before I could begin to feel like I was in the mountains.  It wasn’t until I actually got to know Denver, that I began to feel a sense of comfort. 

Denver

I moved here a week before classes started at GSSW, which gave me plenty of time to settle into my apartment and to explore Denver.  I spent most of the week looking around down town Denver, standing a mile high at the Capital, people watching, and getting to know the DU campus.  I used a nifty little tourist guide book, to help me create my bucket list of things to do and see in Denver.  In one week I was able to check off most of them.  Denver wasn’t home, but I soon realized, that is exactly what it needed to be- not home.

GSSW

My experience at GSSW has been above and beyond my expectations.  I have been blown away by the plethora of resources and opportunities that are available both within GSSW and in DU.  I have been welcomed by everyone I have come into contact with, including my amazing cohort.  I have made a lot of friends in the program, many of which I feel extremely close to.  Between spur of the moment camping trips, celebrating birthdays, movie nights, all night homework sessions in the library, lunch at Illegal Pete’s, or chatting up during breaks between classes on the quad, there is always a spot to make some friends at GSSW.  

Our first term at GSSW was a bit rough.  Trying to cram ten weeks of material into five weeks, was daunting and a bit stressful, but the quality of the classes and professors (who truly understand and care about what we are experiencing), and the support of my cohort really helped inspire me to push through those three papers and final due in one week, the three day research paper for Seminar, and more readings than I have seen in my life.  This isn’t to say that I didn’t have a hard time.  I love change.  Change is what motivates and excites me.  Sometimes, however, it can take a while for me to readjust.  It was hard to learn how to accomplish all of my responsibilities and balance that with self care,- this has never been my strength- but with the support of my cohort, and the wise words and compassion of many professors, I was able to come out with straight A’s for the first time in my college career.  This gives me hope for the rest of the year and for my career.  I do not feel prepared for the rest of the year, I didn’t feel prepared for this first term, but from being in GSSW I have learned to accept vulnerability with open arms and to trust that I am enough, and that GSSW has more than plenty of support to help me meet my goals.  

If you are a new or incoming student to GSSW, and you have made it through to the end of this post, I hope that something in here has helped to assure you that you are in the right place.  Besides what better place is there to be than among a building full of Social Workers?   

If you are still having doubts or have questions feel free to reach out to me at Michael.L.Holcombe@du.edu.  Talk to you soon!

Summer in Denver

One of my primary motivations for relocating from California to Colorado was to experience a winter season in the Rockies. I’ve been a snowboarder for as long as I can remember, and I finally felt in a place where I could relinquish my love for the Sierras to a range further east.. at least for the time being. All that being said, I was so fixated on the glory of the snow that I had completely neglected to explore what opportunities lie in a Colorado summer. Since completing my first year at GSSW, I have spent the last couple of months traipsing around this glorious city/state and it has been completely rejuvenating. Here is are some of the highlights so far

1. Steamboat Springs, CO

My first weekend of the summer, I headed west for what ended up becoming my favorite mountain town to date. Steamboat Springs is internationally renowned for its impressive ski resort, natural hot springs, and lively history of winter sports milestones. However, only in the early summer months does the entire town and surrounding peaks become engulfed with lush greenery and vibrant flowers, setting a gorgeous backdrop for various activities. While biking, kayaking, and river rafting are advertised as “absolute musts,” it’s truly a town for all interests-be it outdoorsy activities, art galleries, museums, theater, fine dining, etc. I actually participated in the Steamboat Springs Marathon (which by the way, up until a few years ago was deemed “one of the top ten most beautiful marathons in the nation by Runner’s Magazaine) which was pretty amazing. It was my first time pulling out 26.2 miles on foot, and while it may not have been my finest athletic performance, there was little to disrupt the serenity and beauty experienced in every direction of the race. 

SBS

2. Manitou Springs, CO

A sleepy little town just south of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs is home to the epic Garden of the Gods Landmark and the brutally steep, “Incline Hike.” Garden of the Gods is an accessible park comprised of incredibly beautiful red rock formations. While much isn’t to be said that can’t be better stated with pictures, I found this experience to be one of a kind in its opportunities not only to hike, drive, or horseback ride through the area, but also to climb atop and rummage around upon these gorgeous natural creations.  

GOG

GOG1

The Incline on the other hand, was mostly pretty painful. The hike, just shy of a mile, rises over 2,000 ft in elevation from bottom to top. Thank God the views are so breathtaking when it’s all over!

INCLINE

CLC

3. All things RED ROCKS

Year after year, Red Rocks Amphitheater continues to be deemed the absolute BEST concert venue in the nation, as well as a great exercise locale, meditation site, and outdoor movie theater. That’s right… each week beginning in June this stellar venue provides showings of the some the finest flicks ever made, including but not limited to The Big Lebowski, Caddyshack, and my personal favorite, The Labyrinth. Whenever considering what a summer in Denver has to offer, this front range hot spot provides a plethora of too-good-to-pass-up happenings. 

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4. Denver PRIDE

While PRIDE Parades are not uncommon in most larger cities and/or state capitols, the Denver PRIDE celebration ranks among the top ten in the nation. It was a remarkable weekend full of celebratory parties, concerts, and delicious drag. The parade was also pretty spectacular, beginning at the heart of the city in Cheesman Park, winding through capital hill, marching down Colfax, and ending at Civic Center Park. The gorgeous weather and colorful people made for a truly memorable PRIDE weekend.

Pride

5. BASEBALL!

Rockies games are an absolute blast. PERIOD! And it was a heck of a way to spend my first 4th of July in the mile-high. 

rockies Rocks

6. Hiking/Camping/Anything Outside

It’s no surprise that one the fittest cities in the country is clearly one of the most active. What I  have been loving (and will continue to appreciate) about Colorado, specifically Denver, is the genuine enjoyment and NORMALCY of people being outside and loving all things active. Not to over-generalize too much, but it’s pretty incredible to see so many folks out and about on the weekends, experiencing the Rocky Mountains by foot, boat, bike, etc., and loving every minute of it. I fear that the summer will be over before I’m able to get all the camping/hiking/exploring in that will hold me over when school begins again. Some of my favorite trips have been up to Nederlands, Idaho Springs, and Mt. Bierstadt. Here’s hoping for another slew of gorgeous trips before the season’s end.

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