Center for Social Work Education 
New Hire AnnouncementsJune 2013
In This Issue
New Visiting Assistant Professor: Jen Cullen, Ph.D
New SWCS Director & Assistant Clinical Professor: Aisha Hall, MSW
New Assistant Director of Field Education & Assistant Clinical Professor: Lydia Debiase, MSW, LSW
New Ph.D Program Director: Linda Houser, Ph.D
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The Center for Social Work Education is excited to announce a number of new additions to its faculty, as well as a change in the role of current faculty member Linda Houser.  Please continue reading below for more information about the dynamic, accomplished people who will be joining the Widener community this summer!

John Poulin
Center for Social Work Education
New Visiting Assistant Professor: Jen Cullen, Ph.D     Jen Cullen

Dr. Jen Cullen has been part of the Widener community since 2006 when she began teaching freshman-level courses and working in Academic Support Services.  In 2008, Jen joined the Center for Social Work Education as a student in the Ph.D program.  She graduated with her doctorate this May after completing her dissertation focusing on the perspectives of college students with Asperger's Syndrome.  During her time in the program, Jen also taught several master's-level social work courses and became the Assistant Director of Disabilities Services at Widener.


Prior to coming to Widener, Jen worked at Presbyterian Children's Village as a residential social worker, educational resource coordinator, and, eventually, a training coordinator.  She also received a B.A. in Psychology from Widener and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania.  She brings with her a wealth of knowledge about social work, particularly focusing on young adults with disabilities, and about andragogical teaching philosophy.  The Center is excited to welcome Jen to its faculty and believes she will contribute immensely to students' learning and passion for social work.  During her time as a visiting assistant professor, Jen will be responsible for teaching SW 503: Interpersonal Processes, SW 505: Foundation of Social Work Practice, and SW 550: Field Instruction I.  Please join us in welcoming Jen to the Center!

New SWCS Director & Assistant Clinical Professor: Aisha Hall, MSW              

Aisha Hall Aisha Hall comes to Widener after spending the last three years as an Assistant Professor and Field Placement Director at Valley Forge Christian College.  As part of that experience, Aisha has gained a wealth of knowledge related to coordinating and managing field placements, advising students, and teaching social work courses.  She has a long history as a social worker, mostly within the realm of medical social work, including as the Director of Social Services at both Genesis Healthcare and Extendicare-Dresher Hill, as a transplant social worker at Albert Einstein Medical Center, and as a renal social worker at both Fresenius Medical Care and Gambro Healthcare.


Aisha received her BSW from Temple University and her Masters of Occupational Social Work from Syracuse University.  As the new Director of Social Work Counseling Services (SWCS), she will be responsible for the overall operations of the program and will be working closely with the Widener Partnership Charter School (WPCS) and other community agencies.  Aisha will also supervise SWCS interns and supervisors.  This fall she will be teaching SW 320 - Generalist Practice I.  The Center is excited to have Aisha join its faculty and believes she will bring strong supervisory, managerial, and teaching skills to each of her roles.  Please join us in welcoming Aisha!

New Assistant Director of Field Education & Assistant Clinical Professor: Lydia DeBiase, MSW, LSW   Lydia DeBiase

Lydia DeBiase is a Widener alum who has enjoyed a long career

 dedicated to the field of social work.  For the past 17 years, Lydia has worked for Children & Youth Services of Delaware County in the roles of caseworker, supervisor, and, most recently, placement manager.  In addition, she joined Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems in 2010 as a substance use assessor and added the role of outpatient therapist in 2011.  She has extensive experience in supervision, assessment, consultation, and working with children and families, all of which will be useful in her new roles in the Center.


Lydia graduated with her B.A. in Social Welfare from Kutztown University and her MSW from Widener in 2011.  She is now a licensed social worker and is working towards her LCSW.  Since her graduation, Lydia has returned to Widener twice to present on child welfare to students and visiting faculty, as well as served on the Center Advisory Board and with the MSW Alumni Organization.  In her new position, Lydia will work closely with Pat Fletcher, Director of Field Education, in developing field placement sites, placing and monitoring BSW and MSW students in the field, and coordinating with faculty field liaisons.  She will be primarily responsible for the BSW Field Education program and will act as the liaison for the CWEL and CWEB programs.  Lydia will also serve as the faculty liaison to the MSW Alumni Organization.  This fall she will be teaching SW 505 - Generalist Social Work Practice and SW 550 - Field Practice I.  The Center believes Lydia will be a great addition to its faculty and is excited to see how she contributes to the field education program.  Please join us in welcoming Lydia!

New Ph.D Program Director: Linda Houser, Ph.D              

Linda Houser Dr. Linda Houser is a current Assistant Professor in the Center for Social Work Education who has been part of the Widener community since the fall of 2011.  She received her BSW from Eastern University, her MSW from Temple University, and her Ph.D from the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College in 2010.  Though she did not necessarily anticipate becoming the Ph.D Program Director, Linda could not be more excited for this new role.  She shares that the main reason she accepted this position is because the Center's faculty is so supportive and truly works together, which makes overseeing a Ph.D program and coordinating dissertation committees much easier and more enjoyable.


Linda recognizes there are many current strengths of the Ph.D program, which she would like to continue to honor, such as the program's recruitment of students with a depth of practice experience and wisdom, as well as its history of producing scholars whose work has real-world application.  In this role, Linda is looking forward to meeting with the students to help them articulate their ideas and put them into practice.  She believes the Ph.D students come with certain energy and passion that can easily translate into projects and presentations.  She would also like to continue to work on marketing the program, to reach the students for whom the Center's approach to doctoral education and part-time program would be a good fit.  Boosting the program's visibility in the region and beyond may help in continuing to grow and strengthen the program.


In her first year, Linda hopes to get to know each of the current doctoral students through individual meetings.  She would also like to visit Master's programs in the region and beyond to talk about doctoral programs in general, doctoral programs in social work, and the specific program at Widener.  Within the Center, Linda plans to begin hosting brown-bag lunches once a month around topics like demystifying the publication process, presenting at professional conferences, and more.  In addition, she plans to create a monthly newsletter for students and faculty with briefs about students' work within the program, upcoming conference submission deadlines, special journal editions, and more.  In this way, she hopes to better connect students and faculty and further the opportunities for scholarship for the doctoral students.


As Linda transitions into this new position, she will adjust to taking on additional administrative duties.  Linda will teach two classes a semester, as opposed to the three-a-semester she has been teaching, though most of them will remain Master's-level classes. She loves teaching and scholarship and is looking forward to continuing these aspects, while adopting her new duties as the director.  The Center is so pleased to have Linda take over as Ph.D Program Director and looks forward to seeing what she will bring to this role and the program!