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Social Work Leaders Establish Academy, Honoring Two from UMB

The newly-established American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) has selected its first group of fellows, who were urged during their recent induction ceremonies to emulate the leadership and advisory roles of members of the National Academies. The AASWSW recognized 28 scholars and practitioners, including five board members, at an event held April 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) and chair of the AASWSW board, called the establishment of the academy "a milestone for the profession." Selected as a fellow for his accomplishments, Barth was most recently honored by the Society for Social Work and Research with its 2010 Distinguished Achievement Award. Previously he was recognized as Researcher of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and as recipient of the Flynn Prize from the University of Southern California.

Jesse J. Harris, PhD, MSW, MA,(pictured above) a professor and dean emeritus of the school, was also among those chosen as fellows for achieving excellence in high-impact work that advances social good. "I am honored to have been selected," said Harris, who served as dean from 1991 until 2006.

He is a retired Army colonel who was chief of social workers for the Army Surgeon General and who now chairs a SSW task force on returning soldiers. Harris is the recipient of numerous awards including the Army Legion of Merit, the NASW Social Work Pioneer Certificate of Honor and the NASW Ruth Knee/Milton Wittman Lifetime Achievement Award in Health and Mental Health Practice.

"I am very happy that the profession has established an academy," he said. "I expect it's going to make a tremendous contribution not only to the profession but to the country as well." Harris said members of the academy expect that policymakers will look to the fellows to address "major issues of our society."

Presiding at the event were AASWSW founders, including Grover C. Gilmore, PhD, dean, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and Barth, whose peers had chosen him to chair the academy's board. The group was informed of federal health-care reform provisions by Sheldon Fields, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, a Robert Wood Johnson health policy fellow in the office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland.

In emulating the scientific advisory role of the National Academies, Barth said, "We are building on a tradition." Yet the AASWSW also is seen as an innovation that offers "a substantial new opportunity to bring the best minds of researchers and best practices to bear in the redesign of social services and preventive and community-strengthening programs."

The purposes of the AASWSW are: to encourage and recognize outstanding research, scholarship, and practice that contribute to a sustainable, equitable, and just future; to inform social policy by serving as a frontline source of information for the social work profession as well as Congress and government agencies and entities charged with advancing the public good; to promote the examination of social policy and the application of research to test alternative policies, programs, and practices for their impact on society; and to celebrate excellence in social work and social welfare research, education, and practice.

Posting Date: 05/19/2010
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu