Messages from Dean Begg to the School of Social Work Community


Thoughts on the heartbreaking events in Uvalde, Texas

It was Nelson Mandela who stated that, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” And we are failing.

May 26, 2022


Thoughts on the Attack in Buffalo, NY

While we engaged in a joyous celebration of our 2022 graduates yesterday, a horrific scene was unfolding in Buffalo, NY. An 18-year-old white man is accused of a racially-motivated, anti-Black attack on shoppers at a neighborhood grocery store.

May 15, 2022


CSSW Commencement Speaker for the Classes of 2020 and 2021

I am thoroughly delighted to announce that Tiffany Younger will be Columbia School of Social Work’s commencement speaker for the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on Thursday, May 19th.

May 12, 2022


In Honor of Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental health services are essential for well-being. In the U.S., it is estimated that more than 60 percent of mental health treatment is provided by social workers.

May 11, 2022


In Honor of Jewish American Heritage Month

During the month of May, we celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month. For the last 16 years, the U.S. has publicly recognized the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture.

May 10, 2022


In Honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

As May begins, we commemorate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to recognize and honor the many contributions and achievements of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the U.S.

May 3, 2022


In Honor of Dr. Kathy Boudin

I received word that one of our faculty, Dr.Kathy Boudin, passed away yesterday morning after a seven-year illness. I am shocked and greatly saddened by her loss. She has been part of our community since 2008…

May 2, 2022


2022 CSSW Commencement Speaker

I am delighted to share the wonderful news that Wanda M. Holland Greene will be Columbia School of Social Work’s 2022 commencement speaker. Ms. Holland Greene is Head of School at The Hamlin School in San Francisco as well the Vice Chair of Columbia University’s Board of Trustees.

April 15, 2022


Commemorating Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2022

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an opportunity for us to support survivors and raise awareness about and promote the prevention of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. The aim of this year’s theme, “Building Safe Online Spaces Together,” is to highlight the fact that sexual violence can occur anywhere, including in online spaces.

April 11, 2022


In Honor of Transgender Day of Visibility

Every year on March 31st, we commemorate International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), a day to celebrate transgender and gender non-conforming people, their resilience, their successes, and their contributions to society.

March 31, 2022


Welcoming Dr. Brenda Jones Harden

I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Brenda Jones Harden will join our faculty on July 1st as Professor of Social Work. Dr. Jones Harden is a scientist-practitioner who uses research to improve the quality and effectiveness of child and family services to inform child and family policy.

March 23, 2022


Enough is Enough

On March 2nd, I sent a note to our community condemning Anti-Asian violence. And I mentioned then how horrifying it is to consider the frequency with which I am sending these notes out. Less than two weeks later, I am writing yet another note acknowledging the most recent hate crime against a person of Asian descent, which happened in Yonkers, NY. This is devastating.

March 15, 2022


Announcing Columbia’s New Community Advisory Council

Yesterday President Bollinger announced the creation of a Community Advisory Council to deepen its relationship with our neighbors in Harlem and Upper Manhattan. I am honored and excited to be co-chairing this initiative…

March 5, 2022


Condemning Anti-Asian Violence

Yesterday we saw the heartbreaking news of the death of GuiYing Ma, an Asian-American woman from Queens. She was attacked last November, leaving her in a coma for 10 weeks. Her loss is the latest in a series of brutal attacks on those of Asian descent in New York City; we send our deepest condolences to her family and all those who have been impacted by such violence and loss.

March 2, 2022


In Honor of Social Work Month and Women’s History Month

Each year, the month of March gives us the opportunity to honor both the social work profession and the contributions of womxn activists across the United States.

March 1, 2022


Celebrating Lunar New Year

Today marks the start of one of the most important holidays for many Asian communities around the world — Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival.

February 1, 2022


In Honor of Black History Month

The national theme for Black History Month this year is “Black Health and Wellness,” highlighting the inequities in access to quality healthcare for Black communities.

February 1, 2022


In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

As we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s organizing, we are reminded of his belief that one of the cornerstones for fighting racial inequity is eradicating poverty.

January 17, 2022


Update on the Graduate Student Strike

I want to begin this update by thanking the CSSW faculty and staff for all their efforts to support our educational and research efforts through one of the most difficult years anyone can remember. I also want to thank our students for their dedication to the principles of social justice that brought them to social work.

December 5, 2021


Welcoming Linara Davidson Greenidge to CSSW

It is with great pleasure that I share the news that Linara Davidson Greenidge will be joining CSSW as Associate Dean for Communication Strategy, Development, and Alumni Affairs.

October 20, 2021


Welcoming Dr. Robert Fullilove to CSSW

It is with great pleasure that I share the news that Dr. Robert Fullilove has joined our faculty with an interdisciplinary appointment between the Mailman School of Public Health and CSSW.

September 27, 2021


Anti-Racism Action Plan Published

A first-draft CSSW Anti-Racism Action Plan has now been posted to the School’s website to provide an opportunity for community-wide feedback and continuing conversation around goals and action steps:

September 9, 2021


Welcoming Dr. Rob Eschmann to Columbia

I am thrilled to announce that Dr. Rob Eschmann will join our faculty on July 1, 2021, as a tenure-track Associate Professor of Social Work.

June 22, 2021


Planning for Fall 2021

I write today to provide important information regarding Fall 2021. As we look ahead to September, it is clear that there are a number of positive trends with regard to the COVID pandemic. It is also true that the landscape remains both complex and challenging. Leaders at the School and the University are engaged in extensive conversation about our plans for the fall.

May 4, 2021


In Response to the Chauvin Trial Verdict

Content warning: This email contains references that may be upsetting or triggering, particularly to Black members of our community.

April 20, 2021


In Honor of Social Work Month and Women’s History Month

The month of March marks the opportunity for us to recognize both the social work profession and the contributions of women activists here in the United States. This year’s Social Work Month theme, “Social Workers Are Essential,” could not be more apropos. …

March 5, 2021


Plans for CSSW Commencement 2021

As many of you near the completion of your degree programs, I am writing to provide information on honoring your accomplishments and our School’s 2021 graduation ceremony.

March 2, 2021


Statement on Anti-Asian racism and attacks

This week, California lawmakers passed legislation to allocate $1.4 million for tracking anti-Asian hate incidents. This is in response to the recent increase in violence against Asian and Asian-American people across the U.S.

February 26, 2021


Responding to Community Concerns

The intensity of the conversation on social media regarding Professor Ericka Hart’s expressed concerns about their treatment by CSSW speaks not only to Professor Hart’s laudable role as a public figure and Black queer femme activist, but also to the urgency of larger issues of race, gender, and sexuality confronting higher education and our School.

February 18, 2021


In Honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, January 15th, would have been the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 92nd birthday, and on Monday we will celebrate his life and legacy in the United States. The timing of this holiday is deeply significant this year – coming so soon after the violent attack on our nation’s Capitol building by white supremacists, and only days before the historic inauguration of the first Black and Indian woman as Vice President.

January 15, 2021


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