CSSW Council of Deans Issues Call to Action to Address Anti-Black Racism


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End of Fall 2019 Term Message

Dear CSSW Colleagues,

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
  • Nearly 20 Office of Professional Excellence workshops and co-sponsored events
  • More than 200 individual career appointments and 19 career development workshops/events
  • Enormous growth in research activity and grants
  • A new physical home for our Office of Diversity, Excellence, and Inclusion – in addition to 12 DEI-related events

And so much more. I know this list is woefully incomplete, but it provides a wonderful sampling of the wide array of student-centered and alumni-focused activities at CSSW. I appreciate the degree to which all of you pursued this work with your characteristic enthusiasm, expertise, and warmth. (You also had to “break in” a new dean, which you did with supreme patience and good will.)

I know next semester will be just as busy and even more exciting as we chart a course for the School’s future. To that end, there will be workshops and seminars to help us think about the future of not only the School, but the field. During the spring term, we will hold several sessions on our research agenda, curricular innovation, and the continued development of the PROP (power, race, oppression, and privilege) initiative.

As you well know, the Columbia School of Social Work has always stood for social justice and human rights. While these are
fundamental aspirations, they are not goals that can ever be fully achieved with finality. Rather, we are engaged in a process of continual improvement and renewal, requiring vigilance, self-awareness, and introspection. Ever mindful of the power dynamics underlying our work, we as a School commit to the following principles:

  • The PROP initiative is central to our social justice mission.
  • We unequivocally reject the outrage of racist and oppressive ideas, policies, and actions in our School, our communities, and
    our society.
  • We embrace anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices in all of our research and educational programs.

PROP provides tangible evidence of our dedication to this multi-faceted, challenging, and exhilarating work. I realize we have far to go to advance these goals, and I look forward to continued discussions this spring about the best ways forward.

We’ve just passed the shortest day of the year. From here on out, the days will get longer and brighter, as will our hopes for the coming year. I wish you all the very best over the holidays and in 2020.

With warm regards,

Melissa D. Begg
Dean & Professor
Columbia School of Social Work