Widener University
Center for Social Work Education
Vol. II, Issue V
May/June 2013
In This Issue
The Center Says Goodbye: Prof. Laura Sadtler
The Center Says Goodbye: Dr. Tom Young
2013 Commencement Ceremony
2013 BSW and MSW Award Recipients
International Course Travels to Chongqing, China
2013 Graduation Banquet
PhD Graduate Spotlight: Tracy Geist
Take Back the Night 2013
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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.
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


It is with mixed feelings that I say goodbye to both Tom Young and Laura Sadtler. Both have had exceptional careers at the Center for Social Work Education and have made enormous contributions to the development of Center programs.  Laura was hired in 1991 as the Director of Field Education for our newly-established MSW program.  Laura almost singlehandedly developed one of the finest field education programs in the county.  She worked tirelessly developing field placement sites and, in the early years, matching every student with an internship.  Laura has also served as the Acting BSW Program Director and contributed to numerous self-study accreditation reports.  In addition, Laura was instrumental in creating the Widener chapter of the Phi Alpha Honors Society and taking leadership in the development of our CWEL and CWEB programs.  For the past few years, Laura has served the profession nationally as a member of the CSWE Council on Field Education and in leading field-related workshops at the Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education.  Laura has been admired by her students who have always appreciated her care and concern for their professional development and the individualized attention she  provides her students in selecting their field placement agencies.


Tom joined the faculty in 1992 as an Associate Professor.  He was instrumental in developing and refining our clinical courses and served for many years as the lead faculty for the clinical concentration.  Tom is a truly gifted teacher and is loved by his students.  He is viewed as a thoughtful, respectful, and challenging professor.  His classes are always among the first to fill up.  Tom's leadership and positive contributions to the Center have more recently focused on the launching and development of our Ph.D. program.  We would not have a Ph.D. program if it were not for Tom's vision and determination to make it happen.  Tom was the driving force in its development.  He convinced the faculty that adding a Ph.D. program would enrich the intellectual life of the Center and our faculty, and the University administration that it would be successful as well as enhance our reputation in graduate social work education.  The success of our Ph.D. program is due to Tom's leadership. The continued success of the program will be his legacy.


I want to thank both Laura and Tom for their significant contributions to the Center for Social Work Education over the past 20 plus years and to wish them both the very best in the next chapters of their lives.  We will miss you!


John Poulin, Ph.D.

Director and Associate Dean

The Center Says Goodbye: Prof. Laura Sadtler
After 22 years with Widener, Prof. Laura Sadtler will be retiring from her work with field education at the Center.  Laura was a driving force in the initial accreditation of the social work program in 1993, which she lists as her favorite memory from her time spent at Widener.  Although the accreditation process required long evenings, discussions, and writing, Laura shared that the undertaking stands out to her as a major accomplishment and source of pride.  The excitement of finally receiving accreditation after years of hard work made the process worthwhile to her.  She loved being part of the group developing the social work program from the ground floor, especially creating the field component of the program.   


When asked what she would miss most about working at Widener, Laura said, "Social work is such a part of who I am.  I entered the field to actualize my Christian values, and it feels bittersweet to be stepping down.  I'll miss the wonderful relationships I've had with the faculty and my students.  I've especially enjoyed watching my undergrad students grow up and develop into social workers.  I've always felt like I'm making an important contribution in my work, and it has given my life meaning."


Upon her retirement, Laura plans to spend more time with her husband and daughter, as well as friends and family.  She is looking forward to being able to slow down a bit and enjoy visiting the small farm in South Jersey that she and her husband have been restoring.  Laura is also part of a church in the area and will be devoting more time to pastoral work with them.  As a child she played the piano and would like to take a few lessons to begin playing again.  Even though she is happily anticipating having more free time to relax and engage in other interests, Laura shared that she still looks forward to continuing to teach a course each semester at Widener.  The Center will miss Laura's expertise and hard work ethic at the Center, but the Center and future students will benefit from her continued involvement in the classroom.   The Center wishes to thank Laura for everything she has given to the department and its faculty and students and to congratulate her on her retirement!

The Center Says Goodbye: Dr. Tom Young

Tom and Students Tom and Tracy Geist  











After over 20 years with Widener, Dr. Tom Young will be retiring this June from his work with the MSW and PhD programs.  Tom joined the Center for Social Work Education after being sought out by Dr. John Poulin, a former doctoral classmate from the University of Chicago.  At the time, Tom was in Portland, Oregon and John invited him to visit Widener and give a presentation.  After the welcome reception Tom received, he decided to take John up on his offer to help build the MSW program and joined the faculty for the 1992 academic year.  That first MSW class had only 18 students, but Tom has had the joy of slowly watching the program and faculty grow over the years.


During his time at Widener, Tom has developed a deep respect for his colleagues and feels that they reciprocated the same towards him, often working together and collaborating on various articles and projects.  He co-authored an article on "Group Supervision" with Carolyn Walters and Janet Neer.  He also developed the "Helping Relationship Inventory, (HRI)" with John Poulin.  A while later, he co-authored an article with Barbara Gilin based on an international interdisciplinary course that involved taking students to visit social service agencies in Italy. He discovered that having these kinds of opportunities to work with these kinds of people brought out his creativity and helped to develop a teaching style that he did not have before he came to Widener.


When asked what the most rewarding aspect of teaching at Widener has been, Tom was quick to respond that it was having the opportunity to develop the doctoral program.  The idea came about because he felt strongly that the Center had the intellectual firepower among the faculty to offer a doctoral program and that if they were able to offer such a program, it would also enrich the teaching in the BSW and MSW programs.  As Tom says, "It has been a tremendous reward to watch my colleagues rise to the challenge and so gratifying to see them take ownership of the program."  In addition to the PhD program, Tom is also very proud of the Concentration Sequence and its content,  the "Helping Relationship Inventory" project he developed with John, and the Widener Emotional Learning Survey (WELS) that he spent almost ten years developing with Dr. Ning Wang from the Center for Education and (now Provost) Dean Stephen Wilhite.  


During his time as a professor and director of the PhD program at Widener, Tom feels his students have taught him that his influence as a teacher has had a much greater impact on them and their lives than he ever imagined.  He realized that caring about his students as people and connecting with what they want for themselves as social workers, and doing whatever he could do to bring that into being, goes way beyond any reading or lecture; it is life changing for both him and his students.  He professes, "My whole perspective has been changed by my students over the years. In essence, because of them I learned how to be a good teacher."  For these reasons, Tom admits he will truly miss his students when he retires, though he is still in contact with students who graduated from the first class in 1993.  He will also miss the professional community of which he has become an integral part.


As he says goodbye, Tom would like to leave one message with his students: "Believe in yourselves!"  He urges them to do what is good for themselves and their chosen career path.  He adds, "Look for your niche and find that community that will provide the opportunity for growth and development. Some may be fortunate to find it right after they complete their degree, some may need to go through two or three job changes, but never stop searching for the place where you belong. When you find that community, do everything you can to help build and improve it and to leave it a better place than when you arrived. But no matter what, persevere and don't give up, once you find your niche, everything else will fall into place."  In regards to his colleagues, Tom wishes to leave them with the message of "Keep on, keeping on."  He adds, "Believe in yourselves and the work that you are doing.  Just as I didn't see or know what I was capable of until I had the opportunities I received at Widener, new opportunities will come along for you.  Seize the ones that appeal to you and you will be amazed at what you can do."  


In regard to retirement, Tom has three specific plans. He has always liked photography, particularly nature photography, and he would like to return to that. He would also like to involve himself more in music. He plays some guitar, but he is also in interested in the structure of music, chamber music, and how a band puts the music together. Finally, he would like to volunteer at an organization like the Nature Conservancy that is interested in taking care of the planet.  However, Tom also intends to spend some time nurturing his continuing "intellectual restlessness" to see the new places to which that may lead.


After 20 years at Widener, Tom professes, "I am consumed with feelings of gratitude and appreciation for my colleagues and the many students I have had the pleasure of meeting and the wonderful relationships I have had."  The Center wishes to thank Tom for his many years of service to the Center and the innovation he has brought to its programs, faculty, and students, as well as congratulate him on his retirement!  As a bonus, click the link below if you would like to read Tom's inspirational speech from the 2013 Graduate Awards Ceremony.


Dr. Tom Young's 2013 Graduate Awards Ceremony Speech 

2013 Commencement Ceremony
Graduation 2 Graduation 1  
On Saturday, May 18th, Center for Social Work Education faculty members, staff, and guests watched as 13 BSW students, 108 MSW students, and 2 PhD students received their diplomas in recognition of their completion of their respective programs.  Many graduates and their guests also joined faculty and staff at a pre-graduation gathering at Bruce Hall to share in coffee, danish, celebrating, and picture-taking before the ceremony. The Center wishes all of its graduates the best of luck in their future careers and knows that each graduate will find a way to make a positive impact in the field of social work. 
Graduation 3  Graduation 4
2013 BSW and MSW Award Recipients 
Cole Glaser
Dr. Beth Barol & Cole Glaser
On Friday, May 15th, Widener University Graduate and Undergraduate Award Ceremonies were held on Widener's Chester Campus. We are pleased that the following BSW and MSW students won the awards described below:
BSW Awards 
The Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for Social Work to Michelle Hicks 
Awarded to the graduating BSW student who has demonstrated the highest level of academic rigor and achievement.
The Center for Social Work Education Service Award to Jackie Tomasetti 
Awarded to the graduating BSW student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to civic engagement and service to the Center, the university, and the community.
The Excellence in Child Welfare Practice Award to Jackie Tomasetti 
Awarded to the graduating BSW student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to vulnerable children and their families and public child welfare practice.
The Excellence in Social Work Practice Prize Award to Jessica Walton 
Awarded to a graduating BSW student who has excelled in his or her senior field placement. The recipient has demonstrated excellence in generalist social work practice and a commitment to the values of the profession of social work.
The Social Justice Award in Social Work Award to Kathleen Donahue 
This award is given to the BSW graduating senior who has displayed excellence in social work practice with an emphasis on advocacy for vulnerable populations or addressing issues of oppression and privilege.
The Outstanding Senior Research Project Award to Kyle Kennedy 
Awarded to the graduating BSW student who has demonstrated mastery of the skills of scientific inquiry in designing, implementing, and presenting an original research project.
MSW Awards 
Center for Social Work Education Service Award to Harriet M. Burton-Wilson 
This award is given to the student who exemplifies exceptional service to the Center for Social Work Education, the University, the community, and the profession of social work.
Carolyn Walter Award for Outstanding Clinical Social Work Practice Award to Shannon A. Baker 
This award is given to the student who exemplifies excellence in direct clinical social work practice. 
Center for Social Work Certificates for Exceptional Service to Jeremy Irvin and Cole Glaser
This award is given to students who have provided exceptional service to the Center for Social Work Education. 
Congratulations to all of the award recipients!  Your hard work and dedication to social work has really shown throughout your time at Widener and we are proud to now call you alums of the Center for Social Work Education.
BSW Awards

International Course Travels to Chongqing, China 

China Trip 2 China Trip  
















From May 2nd through May 16th, Dr. Robin Goldberg-Glen and students in the International Course: SW 624: Social Work in Aging traveled to Chongqing, China to conduct narrative research and training with undergraduate social work students from Chongqing Technology and Business University (CTBU). Doctoral student Pamela Williams, MSW, along with her daughter Tiffany Williams, a visiting undergraduate social work student from Stevenson University, and MSW students Bridget O'Hara and Dana N. Regusters developed skills in cultural competence and sensitivity while working with the undergraduate students in conducting narrative life stories with the aging population of Chongqing. The Widener group also presented to freshman and junior undergraduate students on "The Use of Life Stories in Working With the Aging Population" and "The Role of Social Work in the United States."


Dr. Goldberg-Glen, along with students from the course, will use the qualitative data collected from the life stories and their research to write articles on the use of life stories in working with aging clients and applying meaning to their research.  Highlights of the two-week trip included a brief stay in Shanghai and a visit to an ancient water city and the Bund, a waterfront area that contains an array of contemporary architecture. While in Chongqing, the group visited an educational reproductive health center and various community welfare settings serving older adults, shopped in the ancient city of Ci Qi Kou, and participated in cultural visits to various districts, such as Jie Fang Bei and Nanping, while enjoying the region's traditional cuisine. 


China Trip 3
2013 Graduation Banquet
Grad Banquet 1Grad Banquet 2

On Thurs
day, May 16th, almost 200 graduating students, faculty members, Center Advisory Board members, and guests gathered at Heritage Ballroom to celebrate the accomplishments of the Center's 2013 BSW, MSW, and PhD graduates.  Attendees enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, a buffet dinner, a photo slideshow featuring the graduates, and the chance to socialize with their favorite faculty members and fellow graduates.  Special recognition was given to Prof. Laura Sadtler and Dr. Tom Young as they prepare to retire this summer, as well as to the BSW and MSW students who earned awards for excellence in academics, practice, research, service, or social justice.

Attendees were also graced with speeches from each faculty member offering them reflections about their time at Widener and encouragement as they journey into life after graduation.  In addition, PhD graduate Jen Cullen, MSW graduate Heather Frost, and BSW graduate Jackie Tomasetti said a few words about their experiences in their respective programs.  The evening ended with a raffle drawing and MSW graduate Kristina Gineitis left with a Nexus 7 tablet, MSW graduate LJ Slaughter left with a $50 Walmart gift card, and BSW graduate Eric Fechter left with a $25 Walmart gift card.  The evening was enjoyable for all who attended and provided the graduates, guests, and faculty a perfect opportunity to celebrate and say goodbye.
Grad Banquet 3  Grad Banquet 5  
PhD Graduate Spotlight: Tracy Geist

Tracy Geist Tracy Geist 2  










Tracy Geist has always loved learning and has known from the beginning of her academic career that she would one day pursue her PhD.  After receiving her B.A. in Sociology from Messiah College and her Master's in Community Counseling Psychology from Towson University, she decided to take a break from her education and enter the world of work.  Her post-graduate career began in a school working with severely emotionally disturbed students and has remained with that population for the last 20-plus years.  Though she did not have a social work degree, Tracy was grandfathered in under the Home & School Visitors Certification and acted as a social worker for her students.  As she will profess, "social work is a hard job and it weighs heavy on the heart and soul."  Though she was passionate about her work and dedicated to her students, Tracy found herself beginning to feel burnt out after several years of working in this challenging setting.


In the late '90s, Tracy was rejuvenated when she took a position as an adjunct professor at Messiah College.  She truly enjoyed passing her knowledge on to future generations.  This experience reignited Tracy's dream of obtaining her PhD, but she did not feel she could quit her job and commit to a full-time program, so she tabled this goal once again.  Five years later, as the state hospitals were shutting down, Children & Youth Services (CYS) was downsizing, and Tracy's caseload was expanding and contributing to a further feeling of burn-out, she found Widener.  Widener's part-time PhD program seemed to fit perfectly with what Tracy was looking for and she immediately contacted Tom Young to apply.


Though Tracy will admit that her time in the PhD program at Widener was intense given her long commute from Dillsburg and the workload involved, she also exclaims, "It was an amazing experience."  Tracy connected with other long-distance commuter students and together they created the motto that got them through: "We can do anything for five years."  She cites the closeness of her cohort and the unending support from the faculty as major factors in what made her time at Widener so enjoyable.  Particularly, Tracy noted Tom Young and Paula Silver as faculty members who not only were her professors, but also became her mentors and, eventually, her friends.  The amount of work they put into reading and editing her dissertation cemented her feeling of camaraderie with everyone in the program.


Tracy's dissertation, entitled "An Exploratory Study of the Therapeutic Elements that Operate between Therapy Dogs and Students with Mental Health Disorders," grew naturally out of her work at Hilltop Academy and her love of animals.  She had long wanted to do something with animal-assisted therapy because she realized that the emotionally disturbed students with whom she worked, many of whom had been abused, did not easily trust or open up to other people.  As she puts it, "you're always looking for that magic wand to help these kids."  Tracy's "magic wand" unintentionally came in the form of a puppy she was training as a service animal, when she brought him into her class for teenage girls who desired to become parents.  Her class adopted the puppy and took on the responsibility of raising him.  For those three years, no one in the class became pregnant.


Naturally, when it came time to choose a dissertation topic Tracy wanted to explore whether this phenomenon between her class and this puppy was simply a fluke or whether something therapeutic had occurred.  She interviewed 18 students, plus their teachers, at Hilltop Academy and discovered some positive results.  Tracy's research found that there was a physiological calming effect for the students when they interacted with the dog and that they also placed human characteristics into the dog (i.e. they talked to him and felt he understood them).  Students also reported that the dog would come to them when they were having a flashback, even when no one around them recognized that they were experiencing one.  Tracy found that this human-animal relationship contributed to a healing of attachment that then translated into the students being able to better connect with their teachers and other adults.


Now that her PhD is complete Tracy wants to move on to the next chapter of her life, which she hopes will include teaching full-time so she can pass her passion onto the next generation.  She would also love to continue her research by doing a quantitative study on the same topic, as well as exploring related topics such as the effect the dogs have on the staff who work with these students and the effect that working with these students has on the dogs.  Tracy's research has greatly contributed to the literature and has brought new insights into a burgeoning aspect of social work treatment.  The Center is proud to count Tracy as one of its alums and wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavors.
Take Back the Night 2013 
TBTN 2013.2 TBTN 2013 
Take Back the Night is a day-long event that is celebrated at many schools across the country in order to raise awareness about issues related to sexual violence. This includes social problems like domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and rape, as they affect all types of relationships. This year, Widener honored Take Back the Night on Wednesday, April 3rd. Throughout the day, people were able to decorate colored t-shirts representing specific types of abuse to show how violence has either directly or indirectly affected their life. All decorated t-shirts were hung on a clothesline in the Atrium of the University Center. Teal wristbands, ribbons, and event shirts were all made to wear as another way to raise awareness about sexual violence. 
Educational workshops were in session all day. The topics and presenters included: Dana Forrest, Social Work and Human Sexuality Master's student, on "How Men can be More Involved in Issues of Violence Against Women;" Victoria Panna, Human Sexuality Doctoral student, on "The Sexual Victimizing of Men;" Blake Cohen, Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County, on "Dating Violence 101;" Dr. Angela Corbo, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, on "Communicating About Abuse;" and police officers teaching a basic self-defense workshop. The evening portion contained our keynote speaker, Debra Puglisi-Sharp, who shared her personal story about how her life was shattered by violence and how she has reclaimed life as a survivor. The evening closed with the lighting of the luminary bags to represent victims and survivors of abuse.  Special thanks goes to Liz Braccia, junior BSW student and BSW Club president, and the entire planning committee for putting on a thoughtful, powerful event.