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UTA School of Social Work ranked among nation’s best for graduate study

Monday, November 2, 2015

Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

News Topics: alumni, faculty, research, social work, staff, students

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The University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work has again been ranked one of the top universities in the nation for students seeking graduate degrees in social work.

Among other Graduate Programs.com categories, the UTA School of Social Work received high marks for its student diversity.

Graduate Programs.com named the UTA School of Social Work No. 10 on the list of the Top 25 Social Work Schools based on student ratings and reviews. In July, Social Work Degree Guide.com ranked UTA No. 12 on its list of the top 25 online Master of Social Work programs.

“We are so very proud of what our faculty and staff have accomplished. Through their dedication, they have created a nationally recognized program that benefits our students, community and profession,” said Scott Ryan, dean of the UTA School of Social Work. “We are delighted by this ranking and endorsement from students. We care deeply about their success and it shows.”

For the Graduate Programs.com ranking, data was collected from questionnaires submitted by 3,500 students from more than 160 accredited social work programs across the United States. There were 15 categories ranked, which include: academic competitiveness, affordability of living, campus safety, career support, education quality, faculty accessibility and support, financial aid, graduate program value, quality of network, school use of technology, social life, student diversity, surrounding area, transportation and workload. Respondents were asked to provide ratings and reviews on the aspects that were most valuable to them in their graduate programs.

UTA’s School of Social Work earned high marks for its student diversity, school use of technology, program value, faculty accessibility and support, and education quality. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest, students rated UTA 8.41 overall, which tied with the University of Alabama for the No. 10 spot. Visit www.graduateprograms.com to read more about the rankings.

The latest recognition for the UTA School of Social Work comes amid faculty research excellence that includes a new partnership with the Donaldson Adoption Institute of New York. Researchers will investigate counseling options for men and women who relinquish their parental rights. Elissa Madden, UTA professor of social work, and Dean Ryan, the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Social Work, will spearhead the study. The Donaldson Adoption Institute will use the results to suggest best practice standards.  

In September, Katherine Sanchez, assistant professor of social work, received a nearly $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for work that aims to reduce mental health disparities among Hispanic populations. Sanchez is taking a fotonovela, a popular comic-book style education tool that uses culturally sensitive images, to overcome the barriers to treatment and encourage Hispanic patients to seek care.

Michael Killian, assistant professor of social work, recently partnered with the renowned Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire, U.K., to deliver a groundbreaking research project aimed at improving the quality of care for children and their families in England. The work involves transforming social work practice for children and local authorities in the London borough of Islington, as well as providing implications for regulation and national inspection.

UTA’s School of Social Work has long been noted for its tremendous work with the military veteran population and among other key initiatives, offers a military and veterans affairs certificate program.

In July, the UTA Student Veteran Organization received a $7,700 Vet Center Initiative Program grant to establish a refurbished lounge and commemorative tribute to student veterans on campus. Alexa Smith-Osborne, founding faculty advisor, associate professor and director of the Center for Clinical Social Work, and Michael Lummus, SVO president, are leading the work. The tribute is expected to add value to the VetLounge in the Central Library using merchandise from Home Depot and employee volunteer labor. The Vet Center Initiative Program is a partnership between the Student Veterans of America and the Home Depot Foundation.

While faculty research and engagement are vital to the School of Social Work’s success, the opportunities for students to become leading scholars, researchers and practitioners are also important.

“Our students are the heart of the School of Social Work,” Dean Ryan said. “They are trained by renowned experts and researchers in the social work field and are equipped to advocate for individuals in need as they become leaders in social agencies across the nation and abroad.”  

Among other MSW students preparing to address issues impacting society, are Alletia Smith, one of four recipients of the 2015-16 National Association of Social Workers Foundation’s Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is given to master’s degree candidates in social work who demonstrate an interest in or have practice experience in mental and general health. Scholarship recipients, like Smith, are committed to working in African-American communities.

UTA student Hector Ventura was recently awarded the Ima Hogg Scholarship to support his studies. The award is given to second-year graduate students who demonstrate a strong commitment to providing mental health services after graduation in Texas. Ventura hopes to address mental health issues in the Latino community.

Amberly Prykhodko recently earned the Roy and Betty Dulak Endowed Scholarship established by the Hillcrest Foundation. The award is given to first- and second-year social work students entering the field of community and administrative practice.

“Many people in the cycle of addiction and incarceration experience mental, physical and sexual abuse, poverty, homelessness and more,” Prykhodko said. “They are a population in need of much help, but invisible to the general public. My future aspirations include advocacy on behalf of incarcerated individuals struggling with substance abuse and other mental health issues.”

The UTA Master of Social Work curriculum is organized around five areas, including: direct practice, community and administration practice, research, policy, and human behavior and social environment. Visit www.uta.edu/ssw/ to learn more information.

-- Dorienne Reeves, contributing writer

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.