In the News

Jessica Saba

Doctoral student, Jessica Saba, awarded fellowship in the Council on Social Work Education's Minority Fellowship Program.

Heather McCauley and Joanne Smith-Darden

Dr. Joanne Smith-Darden & Dr. Heather McCauley of the Michigan State University School of Social Work and their teams have been awarded two grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate Rape Prevention Education (RPE) programs in Michigan and Georgia. Together, these awards total $2.25 million over the next three years with the potential for an additional $2.25 million to be awarded in years 4 and 5.

Racial and Social Justice Collaborative

We are excited to introduce the SSW Racial and Social Justice Collaborative, an initiative of the School of Social Work Director, in conjunction with the SSW Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. This Collaborative is composed of all members of the School of Social Work Community. It will function as a facilitating entity that every member of the School has access to as we strive to make sure our work, communities, and selves are anti-racist and operate in the benefit of racial and social justice.

Anne Hughes

Dr. Anne Hughes, a researcher in the Michigan State University School of Social Work, has found that many older LGBTQ+ adults distrust healthcare providers and fear marginalization, and many care providers lack proper training to provide culturally-sensitive, informed care to LGBTQ+ seniors. Through her research, she is addressing this social justice issue by finding ways to improve the quality of care and life for LGBTQ+ seniors.

MSW Team in virtual meeting

Important news regarding the MSW program during the COVID-19 pandemic including a video message from MSW Program Director Dr. Amanda Woodward

Joanne Riebschleger

In the wake of vast social distancing due to the COVID-19 virus, many parents and caregivers are facing a unique challenge: helping their children cope with the realities of the novel coronavirus strain. Mental health expert Joanne Riebschleger, a professor in the MSU School of Social Work with a lifetime of experience working with children and families, is offering suggestions on how parents can approach this difficult situation with their little ones - and make it out even stronger on the other side.

Alicia Guevara Warren presenting at Michigan House Hearing on Kinship Navigator program

The Kinship Care Resource Center is a community program within the School of Social Work. Kinship's director, Alicia Guevara Warren, testified in front of the Families, Children, and Seniors committee of the Michigan House of Representatives on February 19, 2020. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss HB 5443 (Kinship Caregiver Advisory Council) and HB 5444 (Kinship Caregiver Navigator Program)

Know More at MSU logo

Michigan State University (MSU) released findings last week from the KNOW MORE @ MSU Campus Climate Survey, showing that sexual and gender minority (or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) faculty and staff experience sexual harassment and workplace incivility at higher rates than others, negatively impacting their experience in their units and at Michigan State more broadly. Faculty in the College of Social Science have recognized the need to expand support for LGBTQ faculty and staff at MSU and are actively developing infrastructure to build community and expand visible presence of LGBTQ leadership at MSU.

Dr. Fei Sun

Dr. Fei Sun, an associate professor from the MSU School of Social Work has received an award from the Department of Justice to advance his research on elder abuse and neglect prevention. As principal investigator, Dr. Sun will work with two co-investigators Dr. Zhenmei Zhang from MSU Department of Sociology and Dr. Xia Wang from School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University to develop and test the efficacy and effectiveness of a financial abuse prevention model for elders with cognitive decline living in rural Michigan.

Bezil Taylor

Bezil Taylor, a second-year MSW student in the School of Social Work’s Organization and Community Leadership area of specialized practice, was recently selected as the 2019 Outstanding Student by the Association on Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA). He entered the program in 2018 with over 12 years of experience working in homeless youth services, foster care, and advocacy for youth in the juvenile justice system.

Flint Community Initiative students

This summer, the MSU School of Social Work, within the College of Social Science, partnered with the Flint community to pilot a new program called the Flint Community Initiative. The program, which combines service learning and internship experience, is open to students from every class level, major and college. This innovative program is set apart by its emphasis on identifying the assets already present in Flint’s communities and amplifying their impact. Students in the program are paired with a nonprofit or civic organization to work on one of five community projects.

Embracing the Stories of War performance

The School of Social Work has a new certificate program training MSWs and professionals working in the human services field about how to help veterans heal from combat trauma and moral injury. Recently, two College of Music seniors, Ryan Jones and Ryan Gerhardt, performed an original piece called Semper at the MSU Auditorium. The musical performance was followed by a discussion moderated by faculty Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky with three veterans who talked about the difficulties facing combat veterans after their service is over.

Homeless Awareness Service Event at MSU

On November 27, 2018, MSW Student and School of Social Work Graduate Assistant Bezil Taylor coordinated MSU’s first Homeless Awareness Service Event. The event drew service providers and volunteers from many different divisions on campus and from the community. Over 150 volunteers attended the event. Students from MSU Adolescent Diversion Program, MSU Intercultural Aide Program, MSU Grad SAC, and Residence Education and Housing Services among other groups volunteered their time.


The U.S. Children’s Bureau has announced that the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare is the recipient of new funding to continue leading the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI). The $24 million award will be paid over a five-year period that began on Sept. 29. The award is a renewal of funding received in 2008 and again in 2014.

Fei Sun and team

Dr. Fei Sun is a Health and Aging Policy Fellow. “The Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program provides a unique opportunity for professionals in health and aging to gain the experience and skills necessary to make a positive contribution to the development and implementation of health policies that affect older Americans.” As a fellow, Dr. Sun has been working with the United Nations World Health Organization in developing a toolkit for dementia friendly communities through a global consultation process.

Letter from NADD regarding Family Separation

In response to the unfolding federal policy that separates and detains children from asylum-seeking families, the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work has released an open letter reproduced here. I have expressed firm support of this non-partisan statement, and opposition to this policy which violates human rights, disregards decades of practice and research knowledge related to human development and family relationships, and needlessly introduces adverse childhood experiences. I urge you consider the effects of this policy as it continues to unfold, and to take appropriate social action in accord with your professional roles and personal conscience.

Teal ribbons tied around trees on the campus of Michigan State University
MSU School of Social Work Expands Evidence-Based Trauma Treatment Certificate in Collaboration with MSU Sexual Assault Program

MSU School of Social Work Expands Evidence-Based Trauma Treatment Certificate in Collaboration with MSU Sexual Assault Program

The School of Social Work is excited to announce an expansion of the Evidence-Based Trauma Treatment (EBTT) Certificate for MSW students, in collaboration with the MSU Sexual Assault Program. This initiative focuses on clinical work with survivors of sexual assault.

HEALS students pose for a photo at the U.S. Capitol in March

Forty-eight BSW and MSW students from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C., in March for educational sessions on health care, leadership and advocacy activities on Capitol Hill as part of the Social Work Health Care Education and Leadership Scholars (Social Work HEALS) Student Policy Summit.

Laurie Lawlor-Clark with others in front of Grand Blanc Police Station

This past summer I viewed a life-threatening crisis occurring outside a Genesee County agency. A quick-responding competent team of employees began administering CPR on two men lying lifeless on the ground. I had previously been trained in how to respond to opiate overdose at a local Families Against Narcotics meeting, therefore, had an opiate blocker kit in my possession.

Michigan State University seal

The criminal acts of a man who called himself a physician – a doctor who should have helped vulnerable children and young adults heal from their pain – directly and deliberately caused the most personal pain we can fathom. The effects of his crimes and distortions of truth and trust are immeasurable, and our hearts are open to survivors of his assaults, and to their families and friends. We respect and revere their courage and willingness to tell their stories to the world. We are moved by the bravery of these women, the depths of their pain, and the wisdom of their calls for organizational accountability and culture change.

Amanda Dubey-Zerka and Dr. Robert Anda, Co-Principal Investigator of the ACE study

At the end of last year, the Michigan Association of Health Plans Foundation, MAHPF received a two-year grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to support an initiative, “Creating Healing Communities: Addressing Adverse Childhood Experience in Michigan.” ACEs are serious childhood traumas that result in toxic stress which can damage the developing brain of a child and affect overall health. This toxic stress may prevent child from learning, from playing in a healthy way with other children, and can result in long-term health problems.

Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky in front of award banner

Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky are recipients of the 6th Annual SAGE/CSWE Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education for their Combat Veterans class, Embracing the Stories of War.

Daniel Cavanaugh

Daniel Cavanaugh is a 3rd year social work PhD student who spent the summer climbing mountains in the Cascade Range of Northern Washington and Southern British Columbia with the National Outdoor Leadership School’s (NOLS) Outdoor Educator Leadership Mountaineering and Rock Climbing program. Daniel took this course to prepare for his planned dissertation research utilizing techniques from adventure and wilderness therapy in mental illness prevention work with adolescents.

Mid-Michigan Advanced Standing MSW

Announcing the Michigan State University School of Social Work Mid-Michigan Advanced Standing MSW Program, conveniently located at Mott Northern Tier Center, 4082 W. Vienna Road, Clio, MI

Dr. Deirdre Shires

Congrats to MSU School of Social Work faculty member Deirdre Shires! Dr. Shires will co-lead a project selected for Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award funding to help develop a skilled community of patients and other stakeholders from across the entire healthcare enterprise and involving them meaningfully in every aspect of PCORI’s work. The project will be led by Hayley Thompson (Karmanos Cancer Institute/Wayne State University) and Curtis Lipscomb (LGBT Detroit – Community Lead). The award will fund the “Partnering with Sexual and Gender Minority Communities to Address Cancer Disparities in Detroit” project with $250,000 over two years.

Jameca Patrick-Singleton

Jameca Patrick-Singleton received her Master of Social Work degree from MSU with a concentration in Organization and Community Leadership. Recently, she was hired by the City of Flint to be the Chief Recovery Officer following the Flint Water Crisis.

Jennifer Onwenu

STEP (Services to Enhance Potential in Wayne County) received a referral from The Senior Alliance (TSA) after they had received several frantic phone calls from a woman [the couple in this story preferred to remain anonymous] in tears desperately trying to get assistance for her spouse. Jennifer Onwenu (MSU MSW) stepped in to assist the woman with transportation
resources so she could get to her medical appointments.

Social Work 491 Human Animal Bond Group

MSU School of Social Work’s summer course, Social Work and the Human Animal Bond (SW491), taught by Linda Lawrence, MSW, LMSW, is a one credit class that explores the the influences of the human animal bond in social work practice, as well as the ways that the human animal bond emerges in other professions that work with animals.

Combat Veterans Course Team

How do you teach social work students empathy for what combat veterans have seen, heard, and done when they have never experienced combat? Take them to WAR!

Tina Blaschke-Thompson and Glenn Stutzky (School of Social Work), along with Emily Brozovic, Keesa Johnson, and Christopher Irvin (IT Services) have done just that through their groundbreaking work on Combat Veterans: Embracing the Stories of War, an online 2-credit elective course designed to increase awareness and deepen empathy for the experiences of those who have fought in our nation’s wars.

Dr Carrie Moylan

Dr. Carrie Moylan is working with three anti-sexual violence organizations in Western New York (Crisis Services, in Buffalo, YWCA in Niagara County, and RESTORE in Rochester) to evaluate sexual violence prevention programming focused on increasing the use of community level sexual assault prevention strategies, such as coalition building, social norms change, and policy advocacy. Funding is provided by the New York State Department of Health and supports staff at all 3 locations and Dr. Moylan as an evaluator.

Monica Villarreal with Flint children picking up water

Let’s begin by saying, the Flint Water Crisis is not over. There has been progress, but the tap water is still not safe to drink and it is estimated to take at least three years before all lead service lines will be replaced. Until then, residents rely on water filtration systems and bottled water for cooking, drinking and other basic needs. For the past year, Monica Villarreal (2017 MSW graduate) has been intimately weaving together clinical and macro social work perspectives to address the needs of Flint residents and to facilitate community change.

SOLASW students at LSWO Conference in Berkeley

School of Social Work and MSU students Adriana Carreon, Julissa Olguin, Barbara Jean Almeida, and Rochelle Rivera attended the Latino Social Workers Organization (LSWO) conference 2017 at the University of California-Berkeley in March. Faculty, social workers, and students gathered to share their research work and professional experiences in order to improve their cultural competence, as well as to create partnerships to provide the Latino community with the services that they need during this uncertain time in our history.

Students for Social Work Encouragement Wall

In a time where much of the country is feeling divided, Students for Social Work (SFSW) leaders met to make a plan to encourage others. They wanted everyone who walked in to Baker Hall to feel encouraged, supported and unified.

Project Organizers Dr. Deborah Johnson, Dasha Shamrova, and Cristy Cummings

How can we make the MSU community more inclusive for international students and spouses? This was the main question that School of Social Work doctoral students Dasha Shamrova and Cristy Cummings, along with undergraduate researchers Rachel Schwartz and Christina Callton, set out to answer by giving cameras to 18 international students and spouses from 13 countries. Photovoice, a participatory qualitative research methodology, was used to empower the participants as they shared their adaptation experiences, stories of struggle and resilience, and dreams for the MSU community. Participants met several times to discuss their photos, creating shared narratives and powerful adaptation stories.

MSU School of Social Work MSW Program Reach Map

Embracing Michigan State University’s land-grant mission, the School of Social Work has been committed to providing access to the MSW degree for students across the state for over 20 years. With traditional campus-based programs in East Lansing, Flint, Oakland, and Saginaw, as well as the Statewide Blended and Weekend programs that offer the degree in a largely online format, our current MSW students and alums represent 75 out of Michigan’s 83 counties (an impressive 90%)!

Combat Veterans Course Team

Faculty member Tina Blaschke-Thompson and the team, Keesa Johnson, faculty member Glenn Stutzky, and Emily Brozovic were recently awarded Honorable Mention in the AT&T Instructional Technology Awards for the fully online course “Combat Veterans: The Physical, Emotional, and Social Costs of War”.

Daniel Cavanaugh (PhD, 2019) was recently honored to be accepted into an esteemed international research collaborative as a graduate student member. The collaborative, which is known as Parental and Family Mental Health Worldwide (PFMHW) (formerly the Prato group), is a group of approximately 40 field experts on the topics of parental mental illness, transgenerational mental health, and children of parents with a mental illness. Daniel was encouraged by his faculty adviser, and current PFMHW member, Joanne Riebschleger to apply following their presentations in the collaborative's conference in Basel, Switzerland in summer of 2016.

Social Work Students Contribute To My Brother's Keeper

My Brother's Keeper with School of Social Work students, Frances Jackson, Keshara Mumford, and Joshua Clark, Tuskegee Airmen Inc, among many others, held its 2nd annual statewide summit, My Brother's Keeper Michigan Alliance, on Saturday, October 22 at Detroit Hispanic Development Center. The Summit paid tribute to MBK Community Challenge founder President Barack Obama. Event supporters include: The White House, US Department of Education, One Love Global Inc, Michigan State University, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Cities United, Michigan League for Public Policy, Playworks Michigan, Peace & Prosperity Youth Action Movement.