Messages from Dean Begg to the School of Social Work Community
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Dr. Sheila H. (“Shelley”) Akabas, Professor Emerita of Social Work, this past month. Dr. Akabas was known worldwide as a leader in the specialization known as “the world of work.”
November 27, 2023
Some of the greatest strengths of the social work community are the values and ethics we uphold. And one of the most beautiful things about social workers, to my mind, is the way that social workers run towards those in pain, while others may run away. That’s because social work is centered on humanity and compassion.
October 31, 2023
Today, October 9th, marks the annual celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This is an opportunity to honor the invaluable contributions and acknowledge the history and cultures of Indigenous communities that have resided in the Americas for thousands of years.
October 9, 2023
By now you have heard about the violence in Israel, which started with a surprise attack by Hamas. Israel has officially declared war and as of this morning, reports indicate that more than 700 Israelis have died, 100 Israelis are being held hostage, and more than 500 Palestinians have died. With no end in sight, we can expect more death and tragedy in the short term. In the long term, we will find communities of survivors desperate to make sense of it all as they pick up the remaining pieces to live within their new reality. This is tragic and gut wrenching.
October 9, 2023
October kicks off Queer History Month (otherwise known as LGBTQ+ History Month), an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history. This celebration began with an idea back in 1994 from Missouri high school teacher Rodney Wilson.
October 2, 2023
I send this message to honor the memory of alumna Ada Deer, ‘61MS, former Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, who passed away in August. An active community leader, dedicated educator, and savvy political envoy, Secretary Deer was a staunch advocate for improving the lives of others.
September 28, 2023
CSSW lost a wonderful alumna, New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, ‘76MS, who passed away this summer at the age of 71. Social worker, community activist, and politician, Lt. Governor Oliver was passionate about improving the lives of those around her in her local and state community. Let us pay tribute to her and her accomplishments.
September 27, 2023
First and foremost, we would like to extend a warm welcome back to our incredible faculty, staff and students. And, to our new students, we are so happy to have you here. As we begin to settle into the new academic year, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge September 15th as the start of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month.
September 14, 2023
Just this week, we heard from the Board of Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education. The Board has completed their review of the Reaffirmation materials related to their evaluation of our MSW program.
July 12, 2023
By now you have very likely heard about the Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, which addresses decades-old precedent on how colleges and universities may take race into account during the admissions process.
June 30, 2023
Monday marked the third occasion since Juneteenth became a nationally recognized federal holiday in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates the date (June 19, 1865) that the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after its signing.
June 23, 2023
I am excited to announce that we will welcome two fantastic new full-time faculty members to CSSW on July 1st. Dr. Riana Elyse Anderson will join us as Associate Professor of Social Work (with tenure), and Dr. Victoria Frye will join us as Professor of Social Work (with tenure).
June 7, 2023
June 28th, 1969, marked the beginning of what we now refer to as the Stonewall Uprising. This rebellion by LGBTQIA+ activists and protesters led to 6 days of conflict with police, and was in direct response to a community that was fed up with being targeted for being themselves.
June 2, 2023
May begins the celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to acknowledge the myriad contributions to culture, complex histories, and ongoing achievements of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the U.S.
May 5, 2023
May marks Mental Health Awareness Month. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Look Around, Look Within,” which is a call to action to reflect on how myriad micro- and macro-level influences, including our environment, directly impact our mental health—something that social workers are trained to understand.
May 2, 2023
In 2017, when National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) was created, co-founder Dr. Amal David said the month of April was chosen because it marked the beginning of the Spring season. Springtime embodies the idea of “hope, growth, color, and new beginnings,” and the founders wanted to ensure that NAAHM is a time for us to educate ourselves on the many contributions of Arab Americans in the United States.
April 29, 2023
I am delighted to share the wonderful news that CSSW alum Dr. Karen Bullock will be the Columbia School of Social Work’s 2023 commencement speaker. Dr. Bullock is the Louise McMahon Ahearn Endowed Professor at Boston College School of Social Work.
April 25, 2023
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness a month: a time when we take a moment to honor survivors of sexual assault while also grappling with ways in which we, as a country, can do better at protecting people from ever having to experience such trauma.
April 12, 2023
It has become a time to celebrate the different cultures and experiences that make up who we are as a society in the hopes of having a deeper understanding, and appreciation, for what we all bring.
April 11, 2023
March 31st marks the annual commemoration of Transgender Day of Visibility. This day was created to ensure that the Transgender community is not reduced to the sum of their pain.
March 31, 2023
March is both Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate and reflect on the generations of often-overlooked hard work and sacrifices of women and social workers in the United States.
March 2, 2023
As of today, more than 20,000 people have been killed and over 80,000 injured due to the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on Monday. To make matters worse, it is the dead of winter. It is cold and many are without shelter and feeling hopeless.
February 10, 2023
One constant in U.S. history is its unwillingness to recognize and celebrate the many contributions of Black people to this country. Black women, in particular, are far too often erased from history books.
February 1, 2023
Dr. Cogbrun’s radically innovative and transdisciplinary work on conceptualizing and measuring racism, and strategies to reduce racism, contribute significantly to our school’s research, teaching, and service missions, and to the betterment of our broader society.
January 31, 2023
Tyre Nichols was a 29-year-old beloved son, father, friend, and so much more. Friends and family described him as joyful and creative. He was a brilliant photographer who shared his stunningly beautiful photos through his website, inviting us all to “welcome the world through [his] eyes.”
January 30, 2023
We are currently in the midst of the Lunar New Year celebration for 2023, which began on January 22nd and will last until February 1st. Also known as the Spring Festival, it is one of the most important holidays for many Asian communities around the world.
January 27, 2023
On November 1, 2005, the UN designated January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day for the first time. The day is meant to honor the victims of Nazi genocide while also encouraging educational programs to remember the Holocaust and prevent future atrocities.
January 27, 2023
It is my great pleasure to announce that Dr. Courtney Cogburn has now passed through all stages of review, including the University Trustees, and has been granted tenure at Columbia University.
January 19, 2023
I want to make sure you’ve seen the announcement of Columbia University’s 20th President, Dr. Minouche Shafik, the first woman to lead our University. This is such an exciting time to be part of the Columbia community; we look forward to seeing how her leadership maintains our University as both “scholarly and relevant.”
January 18, 2023
For the past 37 years, our country has honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by holding a national day of remembrance. It is a day when many of us come together in service to uphold the beliefs and vision Dr. King lived for, and died for.
January 16, 2023
It is with great sadness that we write to you today to inform you that Alivia Curl, LCSW, CSSW Class of 2016, died this past weekend in a hit-and-run accident in Rochester, NY. We are all devastated to hear the news and send our deepest condolences to Alivia’s loved ones.
December 1, 2022
December 1st marks the day where the world comes together to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and memorialize those we have lost. During the same month, we also celebrate the actions of the United Nations General Assembly to codify the basic human rights of every person. The theme this year for World AIDS Day is equalize and for the 75th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human rights it is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All
December 1, 2022
On the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, there was a shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQIA+ safe place, in Colorado Springs. Five were killed, with many more physically injured, on top of the collective feelings of trauma and grief. And last week the Human Rights Campaign announced that at least 32 members of the transgender and gender non-conforming community have been killed so far in 2022. These are senseless deaths brought on by ignorance, fear, and hate.
November 21, 2022
November marks Native American Heritage Month–a time for us to reflect on the many contributions, and forced sacrifices, Indigenous peoples have made. While we contemplate our thankfulness for those contributions past and present, we must also acknowledge the true history of Native Americans in the U.S., steeping our gratitude in honesty and providing a more textured perspective.
November 17, 2022
Throughout the country, there has been a rise, and normalization, of antisemitism. Last week the FBI released an announcement of increased threats to New Jersey synagogues — the latest example of the surge in anti-Jewish bigotry in our nation and our world. And this occurred just days after the fourth anniversary of the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. This is agonizing. Sickening. And yes, infuriating – as well as a reminder that must all do our part in condemning such atrocities.
November 7, 2022
In this election season, I have been reflecting on what it means to utilize our voice, both individually and collectively. What’s at stake when we remain silent? How do we better support those who are collectively stripped of their voice for a myriad of reasons? And what does using our voice look like in action? While reflecting on these questions, I thought of Zora Neale Hurston, renowned anthropologist and author, who once said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” Tomorrow is the last day to vote in the midterm elections here in the United States – one of the many tools in our toolbox to speak, and speak loudly. If you did not vote early, I do hope you will exercise your right tomorrow. Here is a link to help find your polling site.
November 7, 2022
Effective immediately, Associate Dean Karma Lowe will have an expanded role at our School, becoming the Senior Associate Dean for DEI, Enrollment and Community Engagement. In this new capacity, Dean Lowe will continue to manage CSSW’s DEI efforts and will now also oversee Enrollment Management, including the Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid. This structural change is signaling our deep commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse body of students, with a specific focus on students of color.
November 4, 2022
Every year on September 15th, we begin our celebration of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. Through October 15th, we take a step back to reflect, honor, and celebrate the many contributions of the Hispanic and Latinx communities to our country. This year’s theme is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, a message that resonates strongly with social work professionals.
September 16, 2022
I remember sitting down to write to our community in November of 2019, just 100 days after joining CSSW. I have now had the honor of working at CSSW for three full years, just over 1,000 days. I am astounded and humbled when I think of all that has happened in that time. While we have made great strides in some areas, I know that there remains much to do to fulfill our full potential as a School community.
September 9, 2022
For the last couple of weeks, the social work community has been discussing the recent report that the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) released on social work licensing exam pass rates. These data were released by ASWB after years of pressure from deans and directors of social work programs. The report is deeply concerning at a number of levels, and confirms the profession’s worst fears about this exam. We must press for change.
August 31, 2022
For the last few weeks we’ve been holding our collective breath, hoping that our expectations would be proven wrong. We’ve been holding on to hope, while also organizing, and protesting, and collecting resources to be best prepared for the potential public health crisis that has now become a reality. Yesterday, the right to an abortion was guaranteed across the nation; today, that right is gone.
June 24, 2022
Today, we as members of the Columbia community commemorate the Juneteenth holiday. In 2021, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation, making Juneteenth a federal holiday for the very first time.
June 20, 2022
It is my great joy to announce that Dr. Ana Abraído-Lanza will join us on July 1st, 2022, as Professor of Social Work with tenure. Dr. Abraído-Lanza is a leading scholar in the study of Latinx health and behavioral science, an innovator in curriculum development, and an effective advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy.
June 16, 2022
Every June we celebrate Pride Month across the country – a time to honor the struggles and strength of LGBTQIA+ communities. In NYC, this year’s theme of “Unapologetically Us” celebrates the resiliency of LGBTQIA+ folx, as many have spent the last year exploring their true selves, sharing their journey with friends, family and strangers alike, and activating to fight against continued intolerance and anti-LGBTQIA+ violence.
June 3, 2022
I am excited to announce that Dr. Natasha Johnson and Dr. Charles Lea will join our faculty on July 1st as Assistant Professors of Social Work. These hires are part of a CSSW commitment to recruit a cluster of faculty whose research aims to enhance the well-being of Black and Latinx individuals, families, and communities.
June 2, 2022
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 25, 2022
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I am delighted to announce that we are ready to welcome a new member to our faculty. Dr. Nkemka Anyiwo will join us as an Assistant Professor of Social Work starting July 1, 2022.
May 10, 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
Content warning: This email contains references that may be upsetting or triggering, particularly to Black members of our community.
April 20, 2021
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 practicum placements; A combination of 7 workshops and focus groups for doctoral students; …
December 23, 2019
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
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