Widener University
Center for Social Work Education
Vol. II, Issue I
September 2012
In This Issue
Visitors from China
MSW Alumni Org Updates
New PhD Student Luncheon
Emotional Intelligence, Character, & Building Competence
MSW Alum Wins PSCSW Award
Institute for Human Migration Research
SWCS & WPCS Collaboration
New MSW Student Orientation
2012-2013 Continuing Education Series
New Harrisburg Faculty Spotlight
New BSW Student Orientation
Dr. Linda Houser's Award
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.
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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. 


John Poulin

This year marks the 37th year of our BSW program, the 21st year of our MSW program, and the sixth year of our PhD program. The growth of the social work programs at Widener University has been remarkable.  We are committed to providing the best possible social work education and training to our students, being engaged and civically responsible community partners, and making positive changes in the lives of our students, our students' clients, and in our community. I believe that our new motto - Building Relationships. Changing Lives. - accurately describes who we are and reflects our commitment to the values of the social work profession.

This coming October we will have a site visit for the reaffirmation of accreditation of our BSW and MSW programs. And in February we look forward to receiving full accreditation for both programs from the commission on accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).  In addition to obtaining reaccreditation of our programs this coming year we will focus on (1) strengthening our alumni base, (2) increasing the number of full-time students admitted into the MSW program, (3) increasing the number of  BSW student majors, (4) strengthening the overall learning environment for our students  in all three of our programs,  (5) increasing and strengthening our international programs, and (6) increasing the number of hybrid and online course offerings. 
I look forward to working with our alumni, faculty, students, and community partners in making our social work programs the very best that they can be as we work to build relationships and change lives. 

John Poulin, Ph.D.

Director and Associate Dean

The Center Welcomes Visitors from Chongqing, China! 

China Visitors in DCFaculty from Chongqing Technology and Business University (CTBU) visited the Center for Social Work Education this summer for a collegial exchange on teaching social work practices, elements of internships and supervision, and an exploration of the range of agencies and services that address the needs of the people social workers work with in the United States.  The Center was pleased to welcome Zhou Changxiang, Yuan Lin, Chengrong Wang, Yun Xiao, Qingfu You, Congjin Zheng, and Yong Liu.


Many of the Center's faculty gave in-depth training segments to the seven guests from CTBU. These presentations included: Working with Families (Barbara Gilin), Community Practice (Steve Kauffman), Generalist Social Work Practice and Field Internships (Pat Fletcher), Supporting People with Autism on a Micro and Macro Level (Beth Barol and Linda Houser), Addiction (Trevor Evans), Immigrants and Refugees (Sachi Ando), and Economic and Social Justice (Marina Barnett).


In addition to these training segments, many guests presented from social service agencies in the region. Robin Goldberg-Glen, assisted by graduate assistant Jenifer Norton, arranged a rich field visit component taking the guests to eleven social service agencies. Full days indeed!


Additionally, faculty escorted our guests to places of interest, from Chester, Philadelphia, and Lancaster, PA, to Washington, DC and New York City.  Many thanks go to all of the staff and graduate assistants of the Center for Social Work Education who pitched in to help out throughout the summer.


Most of the CTBU faculty returned to China in August. Two members of the faculty, Vice Dean Zhou Changxiang and Professor Yuan Lin, have remained to sit in on some of our courses, collaborate with Dr. Sachi Ando on research involving refugees and immigrants, and work on plans for our continued collaborations with CTBU.


Stay tuned for continued updates.

China Luncheon  

MSW Alumni Organization Updates
Alumni Org


On Wednesday, September 19th, the MSW Alumni Organization held a kick-off meeting to launch the new academic year. Together they decided on a number of events and activities geared to keep alumni engaged with Widener and to "give back" in support of current students:
  • An alumni banquet to be held in late winter or early spring in celebration of the Center's 20th graduating MSW class.
  • A CEU event which will be open to alumni, field instructors, current students, and the community. This effort will raise funds in support of the Center's scholarship awards.
  • A $1000 scholarship to be awarded to a student in need. Also, ten $100 scholarships will be given to financially needy students to pay for a professional writing course.
  • A monthly Speaker Series where alums return to Widener and share their professional experiences with current students.
  • A campaign to update alum email addresses to be sure everyone receives the Center's communications.  PLEASE tell your fellow alum friends to send their current email addresses to socialwork@mail.widener.edu so they will be included to receive future newsletters and event notices.

The Alumni Org is still looking for new members to join and be part of implementing these efforts. If you are interested and willing to share your time and ideas, please contact Michelle McCann at mdmccann@widener.edu or 610-499-1145.

Welcome to our Newest PhD Cohort!
2012 PhD Cohort
The Center for Social Work Education is excited to welcome its newest PhD cohort!  Eight students joined the program this fall and were greeted by faculty, staff, and students at the PhD Luncheon on August 31st.  This cohort brings a wide range of research interests and experiences to the program.  The Center wishes them the best of luck during their time at Widener!
Emotional Intelligence, Character, and Building Competence by Dr. Tom Young & Dr. Beth Barol

Tom Young In the most recent issue of the Journal of Social Work Education, several social work faculty at the University of Toronto report on the results of their qualitative research investigations seeking to identify "the skills and competencies that field instructors would use to describe the differences between exemplary students and problematic students" (p. 308).


The study focused on students in macro-practice placements (with communities or organizations and policy practice) because the authors had previously focused on students in micro-practice placements (Bogo et al., 2006). The interesting result of both studies is that the field supervisors identified a constellation of personal characteristics of students (as distinguished from behavioral skills and competencies) as more important, or of prerequisite importance, to the acquisition Beth Barol of skills and competencies.


In the study of supervisors of students in micro-practice placements, "[e]xemplary students were described as bright, intuitive, motivated, enthusiastic, self-directed, engaging and tactful" (p. 308). In the study of students in macro-practice placements, "[e]xemplary students were described as self-directed, competent, open-minded, analytic, respectful, caring, considerate, engaging, and professional" (p. 314). These constellations of personal characteristics sound quite similar to the ways character and emotional intelligence is often defined; hence the title of this essay.


The authors provide a table that shows how they link the personal characteristics to macro-practice skills in six areas: approach to learning, relationships, leadership, critical thinking, communication, and ethics (p. 316). Those characteristics included: self-awareness and flexibility; respect, empathy, and the ability to engage interpersonally; self-direction and the ability to take some risks; the ability to conceptualize political and systemic issues; and a commitment to social justice.


At this point in the history of social work education's efforts to develop and assess competencies in students, these studies clearly point to the need for social work faculty and their students to attend to the "constellations of personal characteristics" that seem, on the basis of this research, to underlie the acquisition of behavioral skills and competencies in both micro- and macro-practice.


Here at Widener's Center for Social Work Education, one attempt to do so was initiated by Dr. Beth Barol who designed a new course, Interpersonal Processes (SW 503) that uses the Widener Emotional Learning Survey (WELS), developed by an interdisciplinary team led by Dr. Tom Young, to assist students to expand their awareness of emotions in self and others, increase  their flexibility in understanding the perspectives of others, improve their tolerance of differences, build upon their self-management capacity and improve their participation in interpersonal relationships (Widener University, 2004).


Students in this course complete a self-assessment using the WELS at the start of the course and then again at the end of the course. In between the administrations of the survey they engage in on-line discussions of emotional intelligence (EI) with classmates, write a paper analyzing their own EI and emotional learning, and make plans for personal and professional development. They experience guided large and small group processes geared towards self-observation and the heightened ability to observe and interact with others. As a result of this concentrated effort to heighten their emotional intelligence and emotional learning, most students have reflected positive changes in their scores and a heightened sense of their own "character."


While the five dimensions of the WELS do not encompass all of what we consider contributes to character (see Peterson & Seligman, 2004), they are among those most people expect to recognize in leaders-which our students are in the process of becoming by preparing to be professional social workers.



Regehr, C., Bogo, M., Donovan, K., Anstice, S., and Lim, A. (2012). Identifying student competencies in macro practice: Articulating the practice wisdom of field instructors. Journal of Social Work Education, 48, 2: 307-319.


Bogo, M., Regehr, C., Woodford, M., Hughes, J., Power, R., and Regehr, G. (2006). Beyond competencies: Field instructors' descriptions of student performance. Journal of Social Work Education, 42, 3:579-593.


Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.


Widener University (2004).  Widener Emotional Learning Scale (WELS).  Chester, PA: Widener University.

MSW Alum Wins PSCSW Award
The Center is pleased to announce that one of its recent MSW graduates, Patrick Johnson, has been honored with the second prize in the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work (PSCSW) awards for clinical excellence program.  The title of his award-winning paper is Treating Developmental Trauma: A Self Psychological Approach with an Adolescent and his Family.  Dr. John Giugliano was Patrick's professor for this work and will accept the award on his behalf at the PSCSW annual dinner on November 2nd. This is the second clinical honor for Patrick, as he was the recipient of the Carolyn Walter Award for Outstanding Clinical Social Work Practice in May.  Patrick completed his degree requirements this summer and is actively seeking a clinical social work job in the Philadelphia area.  Congratulations, Patrick, and best of luck in your future endeavors!
Introducing the Institute for Human Migration Research
Institute Signing
This summer marked the beginning of a new endeavor by the Center for Social Work Education and Chongqing Technology and Business University (CTBU).  Widener has enjoyed a long, mutually beneficial relationship with CTBU, and now Dr. Sachi Ando, Assistant Professor in the Center, and Professor Changxiang Zhou and Dr. Lin Yuan from CTBU have launched the Institute for Human Migration Research.  This collaboration will involve students and faculty from both universities and continue for the foreseeable future.  The Center, Dr. Ando, and CTBU are excited about this partnership and the benefits it will bring to both institutions and their respective communities.


The idea for this collaboration grew during a month-long training for faculty members from CTBU held this summer at Widener.  Dr. Ando, Professor Zhou, and Dr. Yuan realized they were both interested in how people move to other locations and are acculturated upon their arrival.  Dr. Ando's previous research focused on immigrants within the United States, while Professor Zhou and Dr. Yuan have dealt with Chinese citizens moving from rural areas to urban Chongqing.  In China, rural and urban areas possess drastically different cultures and lifestyles, so this migration can be just as significant as someone moving from their home country to the U.S.  While speaking, Dr. Ando, Professor Zhou, and Dr. Yuan began to see similarities and differences in the United States and China, prompting the idea to collaborate on research projects around this issue.


Dr. Ando admits that there are many areas within the topic of human migration they would like to explore, but they have decided to focus on two topics to start.  Motivated by the recent targeting of and discrimination against Asian students at South Philadelphia High School, Dr. Ando, Professor Zhou, and Dr. Yuan want to conduct a needs assessment of children living in urban areas.  Philadelphia is an area that has continuously experienced an influx of immigrant and refugee populations.  Over sixty countries are represented among the residents, and many different languages are spoken by students in the school district.  This diversity has Dr. Ando, Professor Zhou, and Dr. Yuan wondering how the immigrant students, particularly the Chinese students, are adjusting to life in America. 


While Professor Zhou and Dr. Yuan are still in Chester this semester, Dr. Ando hopes to conduct focus groups with the Chinese and American students in Philadelphia to gather their perceptions about attending diverse schools and to examine their similarities and differences.  They are currently putting together their IRB application and are hoping for a speedy approval so that they can begin forming focus groups as soon as possible.  With the information gathered, Dr. Ando anticipates talking to officials at the schools in order to make suggestions for change, such as offering cultural activities that may help with the students' integration.  Down the line, they envision working on conceptual papers comparing immigrants here to migrants in China.  Dr. Ando welcomes student involvement with this research, so interested students should email her at sando@mail.widener.edu.  The Center is excited about this collaboration and wishes the best of luck to Dr. Ando, Professor Zhou, and Dr. Yuan in their research endeavors!

SWCS and WPCS Collaboration
The 2012-2013 SWCS team.
Widener's Social Work Counseling Services (SWCS) is launching a new collaboration with the Widener Partnership Charter School (WPCS) to offer additional social services for children and families. SWCS has 12 MSW interns placed at WPCS this year, each student partnered with a teacher in Kindergarten through third grades.  Students will work with teachers in the classroom to promote social and emotional wellness using a variety of methods.  Together, they will be implementing the evidence-based social and emotional curriculum called Second Step.  Second Step emphasizes educating children about empathy, social problem-solving, and emotion management using class discussion and role plays. Students will work with teachers on a daily basis in the classroom to model pro-social behaviors for all children and to help students with challenging behaviors through conducting observations and assessments and planning interventions. 


In addition to the work with children in the classrooms, the MSW interns and their supervisors will be leading afterschool programming to support parents as part of a grant received by the generosity of PECO and the Exelon Foundation.  The Computer Literacy and Social Support (CLASS) program will be held two nights per week and will offer two primary components: 1) computer instruction to increase parents' capacity to support their children's education, and 2) social support services aimed at enhancing family functioning.


SWCS is excited to be working with WPCS in this new partnership and is looking forward to a successful year ahead!

Welcome to our Newest MSW Students!
MSW Orientation 2012
On Monday, August 27th, the Center for Social Work Education hosted a New MSW Student Orientation for our incoming MSW cohort. Students were given the opportunity to hear from faculty members about their interests and passions, as well as engage in discussions with their advisors and classmates.  Four student organizations--Adelante, LGBT Grad Style, NABSW, and MSW Student Organization (MSWSO)--were present to provide students with information and encourage them to get involved.  Overall, students seemed pleased with the orientation and eager to begin their first semester at Widener.  The Center wishes to extend a warm thank you to the student volunteers who helped make the orientation a success: Will Thompson, Harriet Burton-Wilson, Helen Zwiebel, and Jeremy Irvin.  The Center welcomes our newest MSW students and wishes them the best of luck during their time at Widener!  See below for some featured responses from students who attended the orientation:
"I went home that night feeling so confident and happy about choosing Widener for my MSW."

"Without orientation, I wouldn't have heard directly from the instructors and advisors.  In hearing them speak to us, it was evident they are genuinely interested in our success and want to make themselves available to us."

"The hospitality was great and the people in charge of the orientation were very open with information."

"Every professor seemed very excited, enthusiastic, and genuinely happy to see the group of students in front of them."

"Having the professors share their interests helped me understand the wide range that this program has to offer."
MSWSO          Adelante
2012-2013 Continuing Education Series
The Widener University Center for Social Work Education's continuing education series is designed to highlight the special research and practice foci of our faculty. Through this series we are hoping to offer both educational and networking opportunities to social workers in the field, students in our program, alumni, and faculty.  Events are free and open to alumni, field instructors, students, and the wider community.  A nominal $25 fee will be charged for those requesting CEU certificates.  The following are our events planned to date:  

October 2, 2012, 6-8pm:  Latino/a Adolescent Suicide by Dr. Melanie Ricaurte, a Widener graduate.  University Center, Room C.  Click here to register!


November 30, 2012, 9am-12pm: Reporting for Human Service Professionals by Dr. Brent Satterly & Dr. Don Dyson.  University Center, Webb Room.


January (Date and Time TBD): What African American Teen Girls Teach Us about Grief, Loss, and Resilience When Friends Die a Violent Death by Celeste Johnson, PhD.


February (Date and Time TBD): Medication Advocacy for Social Workers by Ginny Focht-New, PhD.


March (Date and Time TBD): Knowing What Works: Designing a Services Evaluation by Steve Kauffman, PhD.


April 2, 2013 (Time TBD): Research with Refugees and Immigrants


April 23, 2013 (Time TBD): Cultural Event with Dr. Nishikawa.


Please stay tuned for additions to our Continuing Education offerings. We have several more offerings in the pipeline at this writing!

New Harrisburg Faculty Spotlight: Sara Strayer, LSW

Sara Strayer Title: Coordinator of Field Education, Harrisburg Program

Degree(s): Bachelors of Social Work, Bachelors of Art in Spanish, Masters of Social Work



I received my undergraduate degrees from Shippensburg University and Masters degree from Widener University. I am currently enrolled as a PhD Social Work student at Widener University.


Previously, I worked at a County Children and Youth Agency for 8 years as an Intake Caseworker and Foster Care Program Manager. I have also worked as a psycho-educational group facilitator, consultant for an undergraduate social work program, and as a Case Supervisor for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children).


I am from York, PA and live with my husband and two cats. I love music and can play five instruments. I also played sports in college and recently completed my first half marathon.


Research interests: Child Welfare, Social Work Education and Training


What have you learned from your students? 

To always question and never stop learning.


How do you engage your students outside the classroom? 

I make myself available to students by phone and email, as well as through structured office hours.


What are you looking forward to in your new position at the Harrisburg campus? 

I'm excited to help students achieve their educational goals and develop their social work skills through practice.


What are some goals you have for this upcoming school year? 

To discover innovative ways to teach students and connect with the community to advocate for social work education.


What are your professional involvements outside of Widener University? 

I am a contracted Forensic Interviewer at two Children's Advocacy Centers in South Central PA. I also provide Child Welfare consultation services to a County Children and Youth Agency.

Welcome to our Newest BSW Students!       
BSW Students
Some of our new BSW students at a BSW Club meeting.
On Tuesday, September 11th, the Center for Social Work Education hosted a BSW Student Orientation for all new and current BSW students.  Students were able to engage with faculty and peers, learn about professionalism and the keys to academic success, and
be inducted into the social work community.  The Center is excited about this newest BSW cohort and wishes them the best of luck during their time at Widener!
Dr. Linda Houser: Best Article Award Recipient
Linda Houser Award This summer the Center's own Linda Houser, PhD was honored with a prestigious award from the Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare.  Dr. Houser co-authored an article entitled "Food Stamps and Dependency: Disentangling the Short-Term and Long-Term Economic Effects of Food Stamp Receipt and Low Income for Young Mothers" and it was selected as the best 2011 article.  The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare promotes the understanding of social welfare by applying social science knowledge, methodology and technology to problems of social policy, politics, the social ecology, and social services. Congratulations to Dr. Houser for this noteworthy accomplishment!