Messages from Dean Begg to the School of Social Work Community


Fall 2020 at CSSW

At a moment when our nation faces the continued spread of COVID-19 and other profound societal challenges, we at the Columbia School of Social Work, the oldest social work school in the country, find ourselves more energized than ever before. These crises have shown how important trained social workers are to our society, and have motivated us to find novel ways to deliver the same rigorous educational programming for which our School has always been known. …

July 9, 2020


In Honor of Juneteenth

This Friday, June 19th, Black Americans across the country will commemorate Juneteenth, a day that honors the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. On this date in 1865, a Union Army general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved Black Americans that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished. This was about two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect, declaring that “all persons held as slaves … henceforward shall be free.”

June 17, 2020


Coming Together to Respond to Anti-Black Racism

I write knowing that there is a heavy weight in all of our hearts. The events of recent days, since the murder of George Floyd and so many others, have served to underscore the deep scars and constant wounds inflicted by anti-Black racism and discrimination in our society. …

June 3, 2020


Sharing a Message for the CSSW Class of 2020

It’s my great honor to extend my heartfelt best wishes to you as you approach commencement day – congratulations! You are soon to be the newest graduates of the oldest school of social work in the country. Your class is a very special one, as you have weathered an incredible tempest with grace and resilience. You overcame unexpected and formidable challenges and have emerged stronger than you thought possible.

May 18, 2020


The hope of longer days

The days are getting longer and brighter in New York City. And the weather definitely took a turn for the better this weekend. These changes coincide with the end of spring semester classes for everyone at CSSW. I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your remarkable flexibility and agility. I have been so deeply impressed by the accomplishments that you have achieved during a most challenging term. …

May 3, 2020


The strength in social ties

As we enter our sixth week of the stay-at-home order in NY and many other places, it’s time to reflect on where we are and what comes next. There are in excess of 150,000 confirmed COVID cases in New York City, and over 16,000 confirmed and probable COVID-related deaths. The number of cases across the US approaches one million. The good news is that the number of new cases in NYC appears to be declining. Everyone is asking – when do we return to normal? …

April 26, 2020


Nearing the peak?

As always, I hope this note finds you and yours in good health. Many of us have been closely monitoring the data in New York City, the nation’s epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data provided by the NYC Department of Health, which focuses on people who are experiencing more severe illness (due to the limited availability of testing), the city has seen nearly 130,000 COVID cases thus far, with roughly 35,000 hospitalizations. The number of deaths is over 13,000, combining confirmed and probable COVID cases. Despite these staggering numbers …

April 19, 2020


As “I” Becomes “We”

I hope you are remaining healthy and safe throughout the current crisis. There’s no doubt this has been a very tough week, with COVID taking a truly horrific toll on the CSSW community. Moving forward, we must do all we can to celebrate the life and legacy of MSW student Susan Chuang, and honor the outstanding example she set for us as a social worker who lived her values and truly “walked the talk” of social justice. She set a standard we can all look up to. …

April 11, 2020


As we prepare for the weeks ahead…

I hope most sincerely that this note finds you and yours well. The situation in NYC, across the country, and around the world has continued to worsen, in accordance with the worrisome predictions we’d been given. As I shared with some of you via online engagements earlier this week…

April 4, 2020


Days of Remote Possibility

Over the past two weeks, the novel coronavirus has reshaped life as we know it at Columbia University. I hope this note finds you well and safe. I am writing to highlight even more changes that are impacting life here at the School of Social Work for students, staff, and faculty….

March 20, 2020


End of Fall 2019 Term Message

As the semester ends, I write to say THANK YOU. We have accomplished an extraordinary amount over the past 4 months. Thanks for working together to deliver: Education and guidance to our 977 current students; Over 200 distinct sections of our courses in traditional and online formats; About 830 field placements; A combination of 7 workshops and focus groups for doctoral students; …

December 23, 2019


One Hundred Days In

Tuesday, December 10th, marks the 100th day since I’ve had the pleasure of joining the wonderful community at the Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW). It’s a good time to reflect and take stock. I’d like to share some of my thoughts about what’s been happening and where we are headed. So far, I’ve had about 50 individual meetings with our outstanding faculty and staff…

December 10, 2019


A Message on Behalf of Melissa Begg, the Newly-Appointed Dean of the School of Social Work

To my Faculty and Staff Colleagues at the Columbia School of Social Work: I am deeply honored and absolutely delighted to become the next Dean of the Columbia School of Social Work. You are conducting extraordinary work on some of the most important issues and challenges facing society. I am proud to join you in promoting proven strategies and interventions designed to enhance social justice…

July 22, 2019