Welcome to another academic year!
As your new dean, I’m thrilled to begin this journey with you. While my first few months in Athens have been busy, they’ve also been productive and deeply rewarding. I’ve been able to see firsthand the talent, passion and commitment of this community.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that each new year will bring new challenges and opportunities to all of us.
Because of this, I want to encourage us to embrace the spirit of social innovation, seeking new ways to serve and learn, care and train. This is imperative as we equip the future leaders of social work with the skills and knowledge they need to advance equity, global engagement and holistic community growth.
Throughout our journey, I ask us to think creatively on how we approach these issues, both in our classrooms and in our everyday lives.
Let us ask ourselves …
How can we approach this problem differently?
- What solution have we not tried?
- What new ways of collaboration can we explore?
- What new perspectives can help us address an old challenge?
A curious mind, compassionate heart and entrepreneurial spirit can empower us to find the answers we need. And it’s that spirit of innovation that has pushed the School of Social Work for more than 50 years, as we have been at the forefront of progress and purpose since first opening our doors.
We were first in Georgia to offer bachelor and doctoral degrees in social work.
- We were first in the southeast to offer a master’s degree in nonprofit management and leadership.
- And, through the Center for Social Justice, Human and Civil Rights, we were the first hub on campus for interdisciplinary social justice scholarship and community engagement.
We were the first federal research center in the southeast to focus on persistent poverty.
- Through the Center on Human Trafficking Research & Outreach, we implemented the first cross-validation of human trafficking prevalence estimation methods globally.
I believe that we have more ‘firsts’ in our future.
This year also offers the promise of our continued, gradual return to normality after the perils of the pandemic. There is no doubt the past few years have been challenging, bringing stress and hardships for all of us. We all have been touched in some way by fear, grief and loss.
While the science of social work seeks to bring comfort to the afflicted and solutions to systems that need it, I also believe it’s imperative that we don’t lose sight of our immediate, internal needs.
So, first and foremost, please take care of yourself.
There is much healing to be done, and I want you to know that this is a supportive, compassionate and inclusive community. Please make sure you find time to focus on you, getting the care and rest you need so you can be your best for your family, your loved ones and your community.
As another school year begins again, take note of where you are, who you are with and what is possible for you. This is another step in our collective journey, and I’m grateful that we are on the path forward together. Know that my door is always open, and I’m always here to answer your questions.
And if I don’t know the answer just yet, perhaps we’ll find one together.
Best of luck this school year, and Go Dawgs!