Message From the Dean

Dear CSSW Colleagues,

Social work is about social justice. Social workers dedicate themselves to eradicating injustices wherever they find them. The past year and a half have served only to underscore the ongoing, deeply rooted, and profound inequities in our society, and the work ahead of us to achieve racial justice, ethnic justice, gender justice, disability justice, and fairness and opportunity for everyone in our society. I am very lucky to have joined a community with such deep commitment to these principles and aspirations, and am honored to support these efforts as much as I can.

Over the past 18 months (and, in fact, over centuries), we have borne witness to horrifying injustices. The list is long. As with too many other threats, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken an outsized toll on the most vulnerable, including communities of color. Violence against unarmed people continues, seemingly unabated. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other victims at the hands of police and vigilantes cannot be countenanced. Likewise, the disturbing rise in incidents of anti-Asian hate are intolerable. We have much more work to do to eradicate the racism that is deeply embedded into far too many systems in our society.

We have seen and we acknowledge experiences of racism within our own CSSW community. This institution must become better. We know that racism, sexism, antisemitism, transphobia, and other forms of discrimination are all too present here, just as they are across our society. These incidents are painful for our students, staff, and faculty – and the burdens fall, once again, more heavily on our colleagues of color. This must change. I have benefitted greatly from a large number of candid conversations. I know that many of us are engaged in training sessions and working groups to heighten our awareness and our effectiveness in combating injustice. As individuals and as an institution, we must commit to critically examining ourselves, our policies, and our curriculum – together.

I am astounded by the talent and passion of the members of our community – students, staff, faculty, and alums – who have committed themselves to eliminating racism, alleviating needless suffering, and promoting full and fairness access to opportunity across all sectors and strata of society. Social workers, given their broad range of experience, see the effects of racism and inequity every day. And they have the versatility to take both big-picture and on-the-ground viewpoints, given their work at the individual level and at the policy level. The efforts of our community members center on eradicating injustice using every tool at our disposal – through research, education, and practice. This is not work for the timid or hopeless – to achieve success requires courage, tenacity, and the ability to envision a better future, despite the challenges all around us. At times this work will be messy, difficult, and discouraging. Staying focused by relying on one another for mutual support is absolutely essential to moving this cause forward. If we can envision it, we can achieve it.

I look to the 2021-2022 academic year with renewed hope for what is possible when we work together. Thank you for your dedication to this critically important effort.

In community,