Widener University
Center for Social Work Education
Vol. I, Issue IV
March 2012
In This Issue
SGA Awards
Graduation Banquet
PhD Student Spotlight - Marc Felizzi
Spring Fling Alumni Event
Phi Alpha Update
Adelante Grad Student Org
BPD Conference
Harrisburg Announcements
BSW Club Update
Teagle Assessment Scholar - Stephen Kauffman
Men's Conference
Looking for Field Placement Supervisors
If you or someone you know has an MSW and would be interested in becoming a field placement supervisor for the Center's current BSW or MSW students, please contact Pat Fletcher, Director of Field Education at 
610-499-1133 or pafletcher@widener.edu.
Quick Links
Like us on Facebook

Visit our website:

Support the Center for Social Work Education
Did you know that the percentage of alumni giving is almost as important as the amount a university receives?  Your donation of as little as $5 can make a big difference for the Center for Social Work Education.  Please consider helping to support the Center and its students by mailing a check to:
Widener University Development Office
Attn: Center for Social Work Education
One University Place
Chester, PA 19013

or through the University Advancement Office's website.

Thank you for your support of Widener University's Center for Social Work Education. 


Dr. Linda Houser: Women & Social Work


Linda Houser

March is both Social Work Month and Women's History Month, which is fitting since there are few professions so thoroughly tied up with the history of women than social work. Not only are women numerically over-represented in the social work field both as clients and as practitioners - throughout history and today - but social work itself has long been linked to the feminine, to an emphasis on nurture, empathy, and service that relies primarily on intuition and practice wisdom, rather than on skill and expertise.


Thus, the history of social work - its concerted effort to move from being viewed as a "mediator between people and other professions" (Flexner, 1915) to a legitimate profession with its own set of distinct skills and knowledge claims - can be seen in part as an evolving struggle to escape from the stigma of the feminine. As the profession of social work emerged in the early 20th century, its leaders voiced opposition to the essentialist view of women as uniquely suited for charity, reform, and benevolent work (Tice, 1998). An emphasis on scientific and objective case notes and reporting sought to erase gender by, conversely, infusing social work with a masculinist approach. The need to legitimize social work - to make it commensurate in pay and public esteem to time-honored professions such as psychology or medicine - propelled its institutionalization and bureaucratization.


Now, these are not necessarily "bad" things. I spend my days teaching courses in social welfare policy, research methods, organizational and program development, and data analysis, and advocating for rigorous research on social work practice and policy. As I was vividly reminded recently while writing up a report of qualitative research, I am a "quantitative thinker." But I also believe that for social work, movement away from the feminine has meant, at times, a movement away from those activities that make social work so critically important to a world where the gap between those who "have" and those who "have not" is widening.


The professional legitimacy of social work is based, at least in part, on having something that others need, namely the knowledge of resources or behaviors favored by the powerful, or dominant, classes. Social work practice is often aimed at equipping, teaching, "helping" people to behave in ways that are acceptable to dominant groups. To the extent that people succeed by reducing "clinical symptoms," finding jobs, and getting married, their difference becomes less threatening to those in power and, importantly, to social structures that perpetuate inequality.


Take, for example, the importance placed upon the naming of poverty within social services. Social work students are at times taken to particular neighborhoods and even to other countries; they are exposed to this thing called poverty on the pretense that this will motivate them to do something about it. It is too often, however, an isolated exercise in difference, in emphasizing the separation between privilege and need. We do not know who the privileged are without reference to the needy "other." Moreover, we treat these categories as if they reflect something real and unchangeable, as if the privileged always have something that the needy lack. It is this maintenance of difference that makes token acts of recognition or service acceptable, and, as Nancy Fraser (1995) notes, may allow us to circumvent fundamental issues of economic justice and redistribution.


So then, what does it mean to do social work in the face of the possibility that our work adds to, rather than interrupts, structures of inequity and oppression? It is a sobering thought.


Whether in the course of living among "the poor" in community or seeing "clients" in an office, social work should be concerned about its tendency to help individuals live more comfortably (or at least non-threateningly) within roles that have been forced upon them, rather than calling such roles into question. It is important to worry about the fact that our clients often see themselves as incapable of resisting or questioning social structures and, indeed, social workers, because these clients' subsistence sometimes depends on us. In its most delightfully liberating form, social work could broker opportunities for resistance and questioning, creating space for the forms of these activities that individuals desire.  


Judith Butler (1998) writes powerfully about the potential for different social movements and, we might add, different professions finding some unity in "a mode of sustaining conflict in politically productive ways" (p. 37). There is great possibility here for a profession that has long claimed a role in organizing and mobilizing people around specific roles and identities and their associated needs. Conflicts might be more productively sustained if fueled by social workers who link the empathic accompaniment so long associated with the feminine to the power of their profession, in order to emphasize that the structures that divide people are not unchangeable, and that together we can do something about them. A truly reflective and "strategically feminine" social work might find its home in the midst of such a vision.

Update: MSWSO

This semester the Masters of Social Work Student Organization (MSWSO) accomplished several different activities in the hope of helping the student body, as well as the Chester community at large, thrive to become the best that it can be.  The MSWSO performed two fundraising events: a Valentine's Day fundraiser selling flowers and a homemade chili fundraiser.  The MSWSO also hosted a resume writing workshop for graduate students, a presentation about the licensure process from a NASW Pennsylvania chapter representative, and a t-shirt fundraiser to help further build a sense of community on campus. 


There are still a few activities coming up this semester that students can get involved with, including a cell phone donation drive to benefit victims of domestic violence.  This is sponsored through Verizon and phones will be accepted through the end of March.  A donation box is located in the Social Work office.  The MSWSO is also holding a Chester revitalization project on Wednesday, April 11 from 2:00-3:00pm.  Members will meet to do a trash pick-up throughout the Chester community.  Finally, to celebrate another successful year at Widener the MSWSO will be hosting a student dinner on April 21 (please keep on eye out for emails for location and time).  We have high hopes for the rest of the Spring 2012 semester and believe it will be a success.  

Social Work SGA Award Recipients
    Rita Sharma       Brent Satterly
Every year the Student Government Association (SGA) at Widener selects students and faculty members as recipients for three prestigious awards.  Nominations are taken for one week from members of the student body for the various awards.  Then, an online survey is sent to students for voting purposes and the winners are announced at the last meeting of that SGA term.  The awards are meant to show recognition for the recipients' hard work.


This year, the Center is proud to have two associated members chosen as awardees.  BSW senior Rita Sharma was presented with the Ryan T. Riley Award, given to a student in their senior year who is actively involved in the Widener community. The student is a role model for the student body and the organizations they are a part of, and has made a positive impact on campus.  In addition, Dr. Brent Satterly was given the Clarence R. Moll Professor of the Year award in recognition of his admirable leadership in advancing civic engagement of students and fostering campus commitment to service learning.  We wish to extend warm congratulations to Dr. Satterly and Rita Sharma on this well-deserved recognition of their exemplary work and commitment to Widener. 

Social Work Graduation Banquet

All 2012 BSW, MSW, and PhD graduates, as well as full-time faculty and staff, are invited to attend this year's graduation banquet at Heritage Ballroom (2107 MacDade Boulevard Holmes, PA 19043)!  Graduates attend for free and may bring one guest for $30 to enjoy an evening of hors d'oeuvres, cash bar, buffet dinner, music, awards, speeches, and socializing.  The banquet will be held on Wednesday, May 9th from 7-11pm and the dress code is cocktail attire.  A Widener photo backdrop will be available so bring your cameras!  Please click here for more information and to RSVP if you have not already!

Ph.D. Student Spotlight: Marc Felizzi 

Marc Felizzi


For the past several years, Marc Felizzi--a former adjunct professor in the Center and an upcoming graduate of the Ph.D. program--has conducted research on the effects of emotional abuse, parent and caregiver instability, and attachment on juvenile sex offending.  This is an issue close to his heart, as Felizzi practiced clinical work with juvenile sex offenders for over 20 years prior to starting the doctoral program.  A friend and colleague, David Burton from Smith College, provided the initial dataset that set off his dissertation journey in search of answers to questions he had long considered.  Felizzi also received help with his research from George Leibowitz of the University of Vermont and his committee chair at Widener, Dr. Brent Satterly.  He asserts that the guidance and support from these individuals, along with the aid of Dr. Tom Young and Dr. Robin Goldberg-Glen in the Center, made his doctoral experience much less painful, and even enjoyable!


Felizzi will soon have the opportunity to share his research with a much wider audience, as he has been given the great honor of presenting at the annual Society of the Study of Social Problems Conference in Denver, Colorado this August.  The committee who selected his work applauded the significance of his research topic and highlighted the necessity of disseminating the results, a compliment of the highest degree.  Ultimately, Felizzi's research found that 73% of juvenile sex offenders have either a history of emotional abuse or parent and caregiver instability (operationalized by numerous moves, homelessness, sexual abuse, or violence within the home), lending credence to the importance of his research.  The only factor examined in the research that lacked high correlation with sex offending was that of attachment.  Felizzi hopes to bring these results into his clinical work by paying closer attention to his clients' family constellations and by looking at the effects of homelessness in sex offending.  He also emphasizes the importance of assessing for emotional abuse and its effects on children in general to the students he teaches in his practice classes. 


Since finishing his Ph.D. work, Felizzi has become a full-time professor at Salisbury University in Maryland.  He looks forward to continuing to teach at that institution and making an impact on the lives of his students.  Additionally, Felizzi has a number of other research interests he hopes to explore, including further research on the impact of homelessness on juvenile sex offenders, as well as research on the experiences of faculty members teaching social work practice classes and on other aspects of sex offense.  He has also written a course on rural social work for Salisbury University and hopes to become more involved in that area of study.  Felizzi is quick to praise Widener University for providing him with a wonderful experience in the Ph.D. program.  He feels lucky to have had such a strong support team and believes the doctoral degree has opened up many opportunities for him.  Felizzi will be the second student to graduate from the Center's Ph.D. program, started in 2006, and he is proud to be part of the program's first cohort. 


We here at the Center wish to extend warm congratulations to Marc Felizzi and wish him the best of luck in his presentation at the upcoming conference in Denver and in his future endeavors.

MSW Alumni Organization's Spring Fling Event 

On Tuesday, March 20th, the MSW Alumni Organization hosted "Spring Fling in Celebration of Social Work Month." The event, held at Iron Hill Brewery in Media, was open to Widener alumni as well as to current MSW students. The aim of the gathering was to give current and future social workers with Widener ties the opportunity to connect with one another and to honor our very special profession as we celebrate social work month.


During the evening, the MSW Alumni Organization also took a moment to recognize Ms. Brittany McLaughlin as the organization's 2012 $1,000 Scholarship recipient.  The organization received numerous worthy applications, making the decision a difficult one. Ultimately, the committee determined that Brittany's many accomplishments and her overall hard work made her the best match for the award.  


Widener's MSW Alumni Organization strives to maintain connections with Widener alumni in multiple ways such as communication, continuing education programs, and networking events.  In addition, through the scholarship program the organization hopes to support the efforts of future social workers.  If you are interested in joining the alumni organization or have ideas to share, please feel free to contact Michelle McCann, the Alumni Organization Liaison at 610-499-1145 or mdmccann@mail.widener.edu.

Update: Phi Alpha Honors SocietyPhi Alpha Members    Phi Alpha
On Tuesday, March 20th from 6-8pm Phi Alpha held its annual induction ceremony in the Wyman Room to welcome 23 new members into the society.  Speeches were given by John Poulin, Director of the Center, Beth Barol, MSW Program Director, and Laura Sadtler, faculty advisor for Phi Alpha.  Members of Phi Alpha's executive board also spoke about their experiences and welcomed their fellow students into the society.  Each inductee received a certificate and medal in honor of their achievements. Congratulations to this year's members!
During the remainder of the semester, Phi Alpha will be continuing to sponsor the school supply drive for the Upland County School District.  Just a friendly reminder to bring unopened school supplies to the Social Work office to benefit students in the Chester area.  Phi Alpha will also be participating in Widener's Take Back the Night event happening on April 4th, along with the BSW Club.  This annual event raises awareness about violence against women, particularly on college campuses, and features a day of workshops, information tables, a march, and a speak out.  For more information on Phi Alpha or Take Back the Night, contact Stephanie Willets @ smwillets@mail.widener.edu
New Grad Student Organization: Adelante 
Widener University has a new ally in promoting diversity on campus!  Adelante is a new, fast evolving, student organization established Fall 2011. In its first semester, Adelante acquired 27 graduate members; 15 of its members are pursuing Masters degrees and 12 are pursuing doctoral degrees.

The mission of Adelante is to promote the academic, professional and social interests of Latina/o students of all Widener University graduate programs. Adelante seeks to provide a platform for graduate students to share relevant issues in their academic disciplines as well as to encourage, support and inspire personal and professional success. Adelante is open to anyone interested in the advancement of Latina/o students.

For more information, please contact Julissa Coriano @ jcoriano@widener. edu. You can also find Adelante on Facebook at Adelante Widener.
BPD Conference - Widener Representation 
BPD Conference

The Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, Inc. (BPD) held its 29th Annual Conference this year from March 14-18 in Portland, OR.  As in years past, the Center sent faculty members and students to participate in this informative opportunity-Dr. Brent Satterly, Director of the BSW Program; Dr. John Poulin, Director of the Center; and BSW students, Rita Sharma and Rachel Randazzo.  Though it was difficult to select only two students from the talented BSW senior class, Sharma and Randazzo were ultimately chosen due to their demonstration of exemplary student performance and significant commitment to the field of social work. 


The theme for this year's BPD Conference was "Sustaining Quality BSW Education in Difficult Times."  Attendees participated in poster sessions, workshops, round table discussions, and plenary sessions in order to discuss and learn about the unique needs of BSW education surrounding teaching, learning, assessing, diversity, research, and curricular issues.  Dr. Satterly asserted that the conference was an invigorating event giving educators and students the opportunity to see what is happening in BSW programs across the nation.  Participants also benefitted from the opportunity for networking and finding research and publication opportunities.  For the attending BSW students, they were given a rare opportunity to engage in discourse around BSW education from a BSW student perspective.  


As in years past, the student attendees enjoyed attending the conference and felt it was well worth their time.  According to Rachel Randazzo, "It was a great experience that allowed me to meet other social workers in the field as well as bond with my fellow social worker and classmate Rita.  I hope that other students will be able to have this same experience in the future."  Rita Sharma echoed her thoughts in stating, "This experience at the BPD Conference allowed me to meet other professionals and  faculty members in the social work field  from all over the country. The knowledge I obtained from them allowed me to think deeply about my future career goals and what concentration I would like to focus on for graduate school. I truly enjoyed getting to spend quality time with Dr. Poulin, Dr. Satterly and my fellow classmate, Rachel Randazzo.  I hope that more students will have the opportunity to attend the conference."

Harrisburg Campus Announcements
On Friday, April 20th from 9:30am-1:00pm the Center for Social Work Education - Harrisburg campus will be holding a continuing education event for any interested professionals, alumni, and students.  It will be a Transition Event focused on Persons with Intellectual Disabilities making the transition from school to work.  2.5 CEUs will be available for anyone interested.  The event will be held on the Harrisburg campus (3800 Vartan Way Harrisburg, PA 17110) in room 180.  Please RSVP to Heather Gutshall at hgutshall@dauphinc.org if you wish to attend.
The Harrisburg campus graduation will be held on Saturday, May 19th at 11:00am in room 180.  Congratulations to our 2012 social work graduates!
Update: NABSW
Rites of Passage attendees  Rites of Passage
From Tuesday, April 3rd to Friday, April 6th, five members of Widener's NABSW chapter will be in Atlanta, GA attending the 44th Annual National NABSW Conference.  This year's theme is "A New Era for Social Justice and Civil Rights."  The national conference serves as a skills building training forum for current and potential members. Renowned national and local presenters and keynote speakers are the highlight of the conference sharing a wealth of knowledge that results in the enhancement of skills for members. Areas of focus for plenary sessions, institutes, workshops and roundtables range from family preservation, youth development, social issues/civil liberties, and health/mental health to professional development.  The national conference is the primary source of funding for the operation of the national office and for awarding scholarship for students pursuing careers in social work.


The NABSW will end the semester with their annual Rites of Passage ceremony on Friday, May 11th.  The Rites of Passage is a special graduation ceremony. This is not just about NABSW members' completion of their program but a celebration of any impediments that they have overcome that have tried to stand in their way. This year's theme is Hye-wo-nhye (indestructible), which implies the quality of nature of a thing that is imperishable. It means toughness, durability, or permanency.  We wish the best of luck to this year's NABSW graduates!  See above for pictures from last year's Rites of Passage ceremony.
Update: BSW Club
The BSW Club has a few things planned for the rest of the semester and anyone is welcome to participate!  On Saturday, March 31st, the Club will be visiting Love Park in Philadelphia to give sandwiches to the homeless.  Interested members will be meeting in the Social Work conference room at noon the day before (Friday, March 30th) to make the sandwiches and lunch bags.  Anyone is welcome to join them on the trip into the city!
The BSW Club will also be participating in this year's Take Back the Night at Widener, hosted by the Widener Center for Violence Prevention. This all-day event will be held on Wednesday, April 4th with various workshops, presentations, displays, and marches to raise awareness about violence against women, particularly on college campuses.  Finally, members will be volunteering at the Children's Art Fair at the Widener Partnership Charter School on Wednesday, April 18th from 4-5:30pm.  This annual art fair, hosted in collaboration with The Nia Center and the Center for Social Work Education, gives young Chester students the opportunity to display their artwork, make arts and crafts, and receive certificates for their beautiful work.
The final BSW Club meeting of the semester will be held Friday, April 13th at noon in the Social Work conference room.  If you have any questions or would like to participate in any of these worthwhile events, please email the Club President, Liz Braccia, at embraccia@mail.widener.edu.
Dr. Stephen Kauffman: Teagle Assessment ScholarStephen Kauffman

Stephen Kauffman, Ph.D., and Associate Professor in the Center, has just been accepted to become a Teagle Assessment Scholar. The Teagle Assessment Scholars are nominated by their home colleges/universities to help other schools, on a consultant basis, develop educational assessment systems on their campuses. According to the Teagle Scholar webpage, "the Teagle Scholar Program identifies and develops people who have the knowledge, technical skills, social prowess, and political savvy necessary to help colleges and universities use evidence to strengthen the impact of liberal arts education for students. Teagle Scholars support assessment both at their home institutions and at other colleges and universities across the country.      


Teagle Scholars collaborate with faculty, staff, and students to use evidence to improve student learning by participating in site visits to institutions and by helping to facilitate multi-institution workshops. Many institutions assess student learning, but few institutions use that evidence to make changes that advance student learning. Teagle Assessment Scholars help institutions become better at moving from gathering evidence about student learning to using that evidence to make improvements." http://www.liberalarts.wabash.edu/assessment-scholars/  


Stephen Kauffman, Ph.D., has taught community practice, program evaluation, research, and policy since 1991, or as he jokes "the courses students think they will hate." Since receiving his Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College and his MSW from Washington University in St. Louis, Steve's research and practice have focused on citizen participation and community and organizational responses to global problems, such as environmental decay, poverty (in all its dimensions), and education.


With this focus, major research projects have included program evaluations of federal HOPE VI programs, Century 21 school performance studies, and teenage pregnancy prevention. The programs (and evaluations) have received funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state of Pennsylvania, and several private foundations. He is also the Program Evaluator for WCSWE - a position that coordinates the assessment of the Center's curriculum.


Most recently, his work has targeted the relationship between Universities and their surrounding environments. He is currently developing a comprehensive model for the assessment of University civic-engagement efforts, and the impacts of such efforts on various community constituencies. He has published in Social Work, Journal of Social Work Education, Journal of Community Practice, Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, and elsewhere.


Steve was nominated for the Teagle program by President Harris. As part of the acceptance process, Steve wrote an application essay and then visited with the Teagle staff for several days in early February. He plans to do two or three consultancies for Teagle each year at different schools, primarily on the east coast.

Deepening Men's Relationships: A Conference for Men and Women about Men's Relationships

"Our culture has historically created a model of masculinity that emphasizes independence and competition, while too often dismissing the importance of emotional intelligence and emotional intimacy in the lives of boys and men. For many males this means denying the qualities that are essential in men's close relationships: ability to be vulnerable, express feelings, and to process concerns and inner struggles. This can affect every aspect of men's lives - including men's mental and physical health, aspirations, sexuality, parenting and everyday relationships." - Dr. Robert Heasley


In light of this, on March 17th the Center for Social Work Education co-sponsored a conference on men's intimacy. Sixty men and women from various professional backgrounds observed a fishbowl therapeutic activity with men and attended workshops on instilling emotional intelligence in boys, recovering from male sexual abuse, establishing intimate male friendships, men in therapy, men's sexuality, and discourse about the changing landscape of traditional gender roles.  The conference also provided an opportunity for attendees to view the documentary film, Five Friends: No Man Can Make the Journey Alone.  Participants were able to interact with the director, Erik Santiago, and the protagonist of the film, Hank Mandel.  The conference successfully highlighted the importance of emotional intimacy in men's lives and was a valuable experience for all those in attendance.