More than 220 alumni, students, and faculty members converged on the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) for the 2012 homecoming celebration, a series of events on March 9 that opened with the Spring Thursz Social Justice Lecture.
Jared Bernstein, PhD, MA, MSW, senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, delivered the lecture, "Public Policy and the Budget in this Election Year." He is shown in the adjacent photo.
Bernstein served from 2009 to 2011 as chief economist and economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, as executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and as a member of President Obama's economic team. An author of numerous books, including nine editions of The State of Working America, he is also a commentator on CNBC and MSNBC and a blogger on the economy.
"My roots are in social work," he told the audience, eliciting applause when he quipped that economists should first be trained in a social work program so that public policy might be more grounded in the needs of ordinary Americans.
Bernstein presented data to support his premise that income inequality is a wedge precluding a majority of families from joining in the economic growth that benefits the upper echelon. The gap leads to concentrated political power and influence at the top, he asserted, resulting in a vicious cycle of greater inequality. Curtailed mobility and limited access to opportunity are factors that play a greater role as the gap widens, he says.
A panel discussion capped Bernstein's remarks as he was joined by three SSW alumni who brought perspectives on economics: Ashley Valis, MSW '06, deputy director of intergovernmental affairs in Governor O'Malley's Office of Community Initiatives; Jean Stokan, MSW '82, director of the Social Justice Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; and Branden McLeod, MSW '06, clinical instructor at the SSW, director of ReServe Maryland, and former associate director, Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute.
The panel was moderated by Michael Reisch, PhD, MSW, MA, the School's Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice.
In an overview for the alumni returning for homecoming, Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, said that the SSW continues to grow in size, resources, and accomplishments. The School has the largest group of research-active faculty and the broadest array of funders in its history. The level of research and training dollars, $15.2 million last year, is expected to rise to about $17 million by the end of 2012, he said.
Barth noted that having 1,000-plus applicants this year shows "that our School is a well-regarded choice for strong applicants from Maryland and, increasingly, across the United States."
"We are providing leadership in developing interprofessional education and in trying to bring new options into health care reform as it endeavors to better integrate behavioral health care into primary care in our communities." He added that the School has emerging partnerships along these lines with the schools of medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.
Barth also said international student/faculty trips are up - with students studying in India, Malawi, and El Salvador in the last year.
At a luncheon at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center, Barth praised a committee of alumni that selected notable peers and presented their awards. The 2012 recipients are Jack Kammer, MBA, MSW '08, founder of The Center for Men and Boys in Social Policy in Baltimore, Outstanding Recent Graduate Award; Vanessa Chappell-Lee, PhD, MSW '83, owner and operator of Destilee Consulting and Health Care Group in Randallstown, Outstanding Contribution to Social Work; Joan Levy Zlotnik, PhD '98, MSW, director of the Social Work Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., Alumni of the Year; and Stanley Weinstein, PhD, MSW '68, president and chief executive officer at Woodbourne in Baltimore, chair of the SSW Board of Advisors, and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the UM School of Medicine, Emeritus Award.
In the top row of photos, members of the School's alumni association awards committee are shown during presentations. Kammer, left, is pictured with LaFrance Muldrow, MSW '76; in the second photo, Nailah Gobern, MSW '07, left, is with Chappell-Lee; and in the third photo, Tanya Bryant, MSW '08, left, is shown with Zlotnik. The photo below shows Weinstein, left, and Barth.